Mildly amusing, but something of a one-trick pony.

IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE AN IPHONE

In this tech-savvy parody of the contemporary classic If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, a hyperactive pet mouse named Applesauce goes off the deep end (literally) while mesmerized with his boy’s iPhone.

Like many a harried caregiver, the boy—who’s finalizing preparations for a special outing to the “wild animal amusement park” with Applesauce—gives the persistently pesky mouse his iPhone as a diversion. Big mistake! Applesauce’s glassy-eyed absorption with the device results in utter mayhem. Oblivious to the roller coaster, tempting junk food and exotic animals at the amusement park, the tap-tap-tapping mouse inadvertently frees the animals from their cages and walks off a cliff. Hitching a ride with some conveniently passing porpoises, he winds up on a “distant island.” The boy arrives to rescue Applesauce, and the pair camp overnight. With no outlets or charger for the dead phone, Applesauce undergoes brief but dramatic withdrawal symptoms, which end with a marshmallow roast. “Ann Droyd”—aka David Milgrim—adopts the original text’s conditional, “if / then” formula but doesn’t attempt its exquisitely circular structure. Cartoony illustrations employ flat blues, grays and greens contoured in black, with word bubbles for dialogue. As Applesauce and his boy stargaze, the mouse asks, “By the way, how’d we get here?”

Mildly amusing, but something of a one-trick pony. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16926-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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