WILLIE WINS

A tender but vital tribute to a father's love and a son's faith, as well as a gratifying sleeve across a bully's windpipe, from a talented newcomer. Willie, a young Filipino boy, must bring a bank to class for saving the play money his teacher will be handing out for extra work. His father gives him an alkansiya—a coconut-shell bank from the Philippines—but Willie worries that Stan, the class bad boy, will give him grief about it, just as he has been teasing him for striking out at baseball. "Plus, there's something special inside," his father says. So Willie puts up with Stan's jeers ("That's a loser's bank. It's ugly, and I'll bet it's empty, too") while nonetheless he harbors a trace of fear that his father's surprise will be something silly or that "only Dad thought was special, like the wooden water buffalo he kept on his desk." Willie works likes the dickens over the month and when it comes time to crack open the bank, not only has he earned the most money, but the special treasure inside the bank turns out to be very special indeed. An understated pearl of a story, humbly and somewhat awkwardly illustrated in deep-colored acrylics, with two affecting characterizations and an exemplary bond of love. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 15, 2001

ISBN: 1-58430-023-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation.

THE BEAR MUST GO ON

Four woodland animal friends put on a show.

Rabbit, Squirrel, and aptly named Other Squirrel (who has slightly redder fur than Squirrel) are a flurry of activity. They are going to put on a show. “A BIG show.…The BEST show!” It will have hats (tall ones), tickets (shiny ones), and a curtain (red—no, green). There are many decisions to be made. Bear, however, does not want to be part of it. He is too shy. He would prefer to be the note taker. Rabbit, Squirrel, and Other Squirrel fire off ideas, amending one another’s at furious speed, and Bear writes them all down. Scribbles appear in the white space surrounding the boulderlike ursine’s head. The ideas pile up; debut illustrator Todd deftly covers an entire page while Bear hunches in the middle, furiously writing. He hums a tune to keep himself calm. On the night of the performance, everything seems ready. Everything except…the show! They were so bogged down with the details, no one figured out what the show would be. The title gives away the ending from the very start, but Bear’s pluck is nevertheless laudable. Petty’s comedic quips are echoed in the frenzied art, with Bear looming large yet timid to ground it all. Limited, skilled use of panels helps to control the pacing.

A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3747-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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EQUAL SHMEQUAL

Forest animals learn the many meanings of “equal” through a game of tug-of-war. Mouse initiates the game with Bear, but then realizes that he forgot the important rule of equal teams. As more animals join in, they debate about how to divide evenly and test their ideas. Meat versus plant eaters doesn’t work, nor does furry versus not furry or even halves, since they are different sizes. Bear’s response to it all? “Equal Shmequal.” Gradually the animals learn that just because the numbers are equal does not mean the teams are equal. Mouse’s solution is to equalize the weights, using a seesaw to balance the teams. When Bear and Mouse pull against Turtle, Rabbit, Bobcat, Wolf and Deer, neither side moves—until Bear gets distracted. Moral: “What really matters is equal effort.” A final note tells readers “what it means to be equal” in math, art, law and team sports. Detailed watercolor illustrations clearly show readers what is equal and what is not, especially as the animals fail at their early efforts. A cute look at what can be a difficult concept. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 1-57091-891-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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