THE CHILDREN WHO SMELLED A RAT

Madcap, zany adventures follow the Gaskitt family in these 16 chapters of fun. Part graphic novel, part breathless action-packed soap opera, the focus this time is on the children—twins, Gus and Gloria, and baby Gary. Ahlberg and McEwen have collaborated on three previous Gaskitt tales and the humor, high-spirits and appeal remain high. So many stories happen at the same time: Will Mr. Gaskitt catch the runaway grocery cart, even when it ends up on a ship? What is wrong with the children’s teacher, Mrs. Fritter? Has she taken one too many bonks to the head? Is Gus the evil twin, or is Gloria? Or is there another? How many packages will Mrs. Gaskitt find in her cab? And where are the tattooed lady in a white dress and the man in the gorilla suit going? Ahlberg manages to keep a loose but necessary grip on the narrative, interjecting hilarious comments and commercials along the way. McEwen’s whimsical watercolor-and-crayon illustrations and clever designs add to the hilarity. A rare treat for new readers. (Fiction. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2870-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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JINGLE DANCER

A contemporary Native American girl follows in her grandmother’s footsteps (literally and figuratively), dancing the traditional jingle dance at the powwow. Jenna, a member of the Creek Nation in Oklahoma, dreams of dancing the jingle dance with the women of her tribe and is delighted when her grandmother tells her that she can dance with the other girls at the next powwow. But there is one problem—there won’t be enough time to order the materials to make the four rows of jingles that are attached to the dress. If Jenna wants to hear the tink, tink, tink sound that the tin jingles make, she’ll have to figure out a way to get the jingles on her own. Fortunately, Jenna is resourceful and knows just what to do. She visits great-aunt Sis, her friend Mrs. Scott, and cousin Elizabeth and borrows a row of jingles from each of them. (Jenna can only borrow one row of jingles apiece—otherwise each dress will lose its “voice.”) While the problem of finding the jingles on her own doesn’t seem challenging enough for the approbation Jenna receives at the end of the story for her resourcefulness, children will enjoy watching her figure out the solution to her problem. The watercolor illustrations clearly and realistically depict what is happening in the story. The layout of the book is straightforward—mostly double-page spreads that extend all the way to the edges of the paper. Jenna lives in what looks like a nice suburban house, the others seem solidly middle-class, and cousin Elizabeth is a lawyer. The author is deliberately showing us, it would seem, that all Native Americans are not poor or live on rundown reservations. A useful portrayal of an important cultural event in a Creek girl’s year. (author’s note, glossary) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-16241-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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