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

READ REVIEW

BROTHER GIOVANNI'S LITTLE REWARD

HOW THE PRETZEL WAS BORN

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 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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