HOBART

Hobart and his porcine siblings face some of the same challenges that pigs in print have faced before. Here, for readers moving into first chapters, Briggs introduces a family of them who scheme to avoid the butcher’s knife. Byron, Wilfred, Violet, and our hero, Hobart, are well-fed, clean, and happy living with Farmer Mills and his wife. That is, they live happily until the gander, the terror of the farmyard, delivers the horrible news to Byron: “You’ll be eaten, you know.” Well, these are pigs with dreams of better things than becoming bacon and pork chops. Byron wants to be a poet, Violet has talent as an acrobat, Wilfred croons lovely tenor solos, and Hobart . . . well, Hobart was hopeful. His hope is what eventually saves his siblings’ talents from fulfilling the gander’s predictions. He hopes to become a tap-dancer. He even has the bottlecaps for his trotters to make that pleasing clicking noise. It’s impossible to read about Hobart and his family developing their talents so that they will be spared the knife, without thinking of Wilbur and Charlotte. The storyline is remarkably similar, though the intended audience is much younger. The whimsical illustrations—Violet is wearing a gingham dress as she practices her backflips and Byron sports a polo shirt—point the story away from philosophical issues to the humorous details of tap-dancing, singing, flipping, and reciting porkers. Some of the word choices (“declaiming,” “sinister,” “despondently,” “conceited,” “diction”) will be challenging for the intended audience and might make this better initially as a read-aloud. Who wouldn’t want to put on a cow voice and read, “Hello there, pork chops.” (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84129-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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THE RECESS QUEEN

Positing that bullies only act that way because they’re lonely, O’Neill (Loud Emily, 1998) puts seemingly meek, new classmate Katie Sue up against aggressive Mean Jean, swaggering boss of the playground. Knowing but one way to deal with challengers (“she’d push ’em and smoosh ’em, / lollapaloosh ’em, / hammer ’em, slammer ’em, / kitz and kajammer ’em . . .”), Mean Jean roughly tries to set Katie Sue straight on the pecking order. But Katie Sue stands up to her with a cheeky, “How DID you get to be so bossy?” and pulls out a jump rope, inviting Mean Jean to jump along. Presto change-o, a friendship is born. Huliska-Beith’s (The Book of Bad Ideas, 2000, etc.) rubbery-limbed figures, rolling perspectives, and neon-bright colors reflect the text’s informality as well as its frenzied energy. Though the suggested strategy works far more easily here than it would in real life, young readers will be caught up by Katie Sue’s engaging, fizzy exuberance. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-20637-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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