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WORDPLAY

The parts of speech are devilish to explain to young children, and this volume does little to clear up any confusion.

The five most common parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and interjection) frolic on the playground for a day of grammar exploration.

Red Verb starts things off, climbing, sliding, and twirling. Next, blue Noun appears. Noun becomes a person (King Tut), a place (an amusement park or perhaps just a roller coaster), or thing (a menacing dinosaur), though why Noun keeps transforming is not clear. Interjection, Adjective, and Adverb act as peanut gallery. Verb reacts aggressively to Noun, though why their relationship seems to be fraught is never explained nor understood. Once a bee enters the scene, Verb springs into action, first running and hiding, then helping Noun, who is stuck (why this is so is also never made clear). Soon Noun becomes the best thing a noun can ever be: a friend. Fully saturated digital illustrations brimming with energy and excitement are certain to make young readers smile at the antics of all the characters, even if it is not always exactly clear what they are up to. The characters’ T-shirts are labeled with their initials, but even that is a bit fuzzy. The orange child is labeled ADV and the chartreuse one sports an ADJ shirt, but both are actually nouns talking about being adverbs and adjectives.

The parts of speech are devilish to explain to young children, and this volume does little to clear up any confusion. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: July 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-93428-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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