True love is no tall tale in this delightfully overblown story of a plucky widow, a herd of greedy cowboys and a Texas...

MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH

There’s nothing like the unexpected arrival of a millionaire widow to spur a stampede of Texas cowboys.

In this terrific tall tale from the author of Swamp Angel (1994) and Dust Devil (2010), it looks like just about everyone is the marrying kind when a rich Englishwoman shows up: “Soon every unmarried man in Texas hoped to marry Tulip Jones—and in 1870, every man in Texas was unmarried.” One thousand suitors mean thousands of teatime pastries to fix, so Tulip hires Charlie Doughpuncher to help out. Day and night, the kind baker is there to comfort (and feed scones to) her suitored-out self. Desperate for some peace, Tulip finally concocts several challenges to clear out the gold-digging cowboys, from reversing the flow of the Rio Grande to collecting a pail of stars. But when her plan works, she’s all alone. Or is she? Lively storytelling in colorful, drawn-out sentences, Texas-style, makes for a splendid—albeit lengthy—read-aloud. Hawkes’ extra-charming soft-focus acrylic-and–colored-pencil artwork on textured paper suits the cactus-filled desert landscape to a T-for-Texas, and the caricatured faces of the snaggletoothed, bewhiskered, beyond-scruffy suitors are downright hilarious.

True love is no tall tale in this delightfully overblown story of a plucky widow, a herd of greedy cowboys and a Texas summer so hot the chickens lay hard-boiled eggs. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-86745-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

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. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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