CIRCUS PLAY

What’s a boy to do when his mother is a trapeze artist, she practices in the living room, and all he wants to do is watch TV with his friends? “Everyone calls my house The Big Top,” Carter (Under a Prairie Sky, not reviewed, etc.) begins. “Kids knock at the window, wanting to play. Today it’s Dan and Nisha, little Stuie holding his bear.” Fitzgerald’s (The Little Rooster and the Diamond Button, 2001, etc.) expressive watercolor vignettes depict the neighbor children with wide eyes; when they join the boy narrator in the living room, they look a little nervous. Meanwhile, the boy sits staring at the set. “Why can’t I have an ordinary mom?” he wonders as the children watch his mother’s moves. Despite her larger-than-life presence, Fitzgerald shows the mother only in shadow, inviting readers to imagine the graceful shapes she takes on her swing above the sofa. She comes into full view—albeit in the background—when the children discover the boy’s “Circus Costume Box,” and are transformed, literally, into an elephant, lion, and lion tamer. A series of wordless double-paged spreads depict the trio in action. However, the boy is transformed as well. While he initially opts out, he joins in the activity when he hears the children’s blasphemous plan to enter outer space (“A circus has cannons, not rocket ships”), upholding the integrity of the family business. The first-person perspective makes the telling slightly awkward, but the story may resonate with children who feel set apart from their peers, especially with an offbeat parent. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-55143-225-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2002

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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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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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