DUNCAN RUMPLEMEYER’S BAD BIRTHDAY

Stadler’s jagged, thick-lined art may resemble William Steig’s, but his young narrator is pure Jules Feiffer: “Why share? If a toy is fun, why let go of it? Who knows when you’ll get it back?” But after bringing his birthday party to a tearful end by jealously hoarding his gifts and spending a punitive hour alone in his room playing with his new rude-noise-making device, Duncan begins to wonder: “If you make a rude noise and no one hears it, is it still gross?” A contrite phone call brings his friend Flora back over, and helps him work out the right answer. The Message hangs heavy over this, but Duncan’s distinctive voice, plus a light touch with the moral, makes it a persuasive exercise in the benefits of socialization. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-86732-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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THE MAGIC TOOLBOX

Araki suggests that anything is possible, given the right tools. As Lulu, a rhinoceros, builds a fine boat and other sophisticated constructs from blocks, little bunny Fred’s simple houses keep collapsing, until he gives up and stomps outside in high dudgeon. Enter a talking toolbox, proffering an array of tools, measuring implements, screws and nails—along with such additional necessities as snacks and Band-Aids. Fred sets to, designing, building, and painting a full sized house (using up the snacks and Band-Aids, too), finishing just as Lulu comes lumbering up to admire it. “Nothing to it,” he responds casually. The illustrations, made from woodblocks printed on finely textured rice paper, feature expressive animal characters and simple, bold-lined, brightly colored props; the result has an eye-pleasing simplicity that nicely matches the terse, tongue-in-cheek tale. An engaging debut. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8118-3564-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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