ABE LINCOLN REMEMBERS

This handsome and genuinely appealing collaboration transcends the usual picture-book biography genre. The author and artist impressively succeed in taking the well-known details of this oh-so-familiar life and shaping them into an accessible, affecting personal story. Experienced historical novelist Turner (Dakota Dugout, 1985) chose to tell this remembrance in the imagined voice of Lincoln, setting it on the evening of April 14, 1865, just before he and wife Mary are about to leave for the theatre. Historians have made much of Lincoln’s moodiness and melancholy at this moment in time; Turner reflects that conventional wisdom yet she does not make this a maudlin or sappily sentimental tale. Lincoln’s voice is simple and steadying. In spare, restrained prose, he recounts his life story in a voice that resonates with an undertone of grief and loss. The effect is simple, fresh, and inspiring. Minor (who previously collaborated with Turner on the haunting 1997 Shaker Hearts) is a prolific illustrator who has risen to the challenge of refreshing and refashioning time- and shop-worn events and images. His handsome and characteristically detailed acrylic paintings are perfectly pitched to Turner’s tone, which is increasingly somber. Minor also doubled as the book’s designer and makes effective use of white space, employs clean-edged line borders in red and white, and even includes occasional ghost images of Lincoln’s distinctive signature. In the book’s well-developed and inclusive “historical note,” Turner reflects on Lincoln’s pivotal role in the nation’s history. Finally, she asserts that Lincoln’s “words echo down the years to us, calling to us, reminding us of what it means to lead an ethical and courageous life.” Memorable. (Picture book/biography. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-027577-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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