BROTHER GIOVANNI'S LITTLE REWARD

HOW THE PRETZEL WAS BORN

As happy a piece of ecclesiastical cuisine as can be imagined (Picture book. 5-9)

A fanciful and inventive version of how those yummy big soft pretzels came to be.

Brother Giovanni is a monk of inveterate cheerfulness and a most excellent baker. But the bishop is coming, and the children don’t know their prayers: what to do? The abbot hopes that Brother Giovanni’s youth and smile will coax the children into learning. Brother Giovanni sings to them and allows them to dance at lessons, but that doesn’t work. He even tries Brother Jerome’s advice to put on a stern face (the montage of Giovanni’s attempts at stern faces is very funny). But after a night of sleeplessness and prayer, when he makes far too large a batch of dough, he folds and twists ropes of dough into the position of his arms at prayer and then offers the pretiolas as a reward. Everyone loves them and works hard at learning their prayers to earn the treat. While it was probably a monk who invented pretzels, no one knows for sure, as Smucker explains in a closing note. Hall sets the tale in a candy-colored place of well-scrubbed children; the small monastery is equipped with the requisite cat. Delightfully, a pretzel recipe is included.

As happy a piece of ecclesiastical cuisine as can be imagined (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5420-9

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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