ERNIE DANCES TO THE DIDGERIDOO

Lester's lively, evocative artwork far outstrips her clunky narrative in this introduction to Australia's northern outback state of Arnhem Land. Young Ernie is off to Arnhem Land to live for a year with his parents. He has promised to write to his friends about the changing seasons. Lester has set the book up so that a two-page spread introduces each of the six seasons as Ernie relates it to his friends back home, with a half-dozen panels showing typical activities for that time of year. During Yekke, Ernie's friends collect bark and dig for yams; during Wurrkeng they weave pandanus and play tin-trucks, etc. Following these spreads are two-page kickers that describe one dramatic scene, such as a child being frightened by stilt dancers or a boy being told about the Creation Mother by his grandfather while sitting in a cave and looking at a petroglyph. But there is no attempt to weave the information into a satisfying narrative. "Ernie collects green plums with Old Daisy. Tammy digs up a long-necked turtle. Christine has her ears inspected." Plop. Plop. Plop. It is fortunate that the Aboriginal words are spellbinding enough—Dreamtime, Mimi stilt dancers, icypole—for kids to keep their interest through to the glossary at the end of the book. After all this impressive correspondence, Ernie's friends finally write back, asking, "We wonder what you are doing Ernie?" Since he’s done nothing but tell them what he’s been doing for six seasons, this comes across as either a bad joke or just plain weird. As a story, it's a great list. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-10442-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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