A learned, laugh-out-loud New York City fantasy for all ages.

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THINGS ARE NOT WHAT THEY SEEM

A middle-grade adventure finds a Central Park pigeon who can talk in the care of precocious youngsters.

On a hot July morning, 12-year-old Jennifer Tindal and her brother, 11-year-old James, visit Central Park. While Mrs. Tindal studies at home for the bar exam, Jennifer watches James and his allergy-prone friend, Seth (nicknamed Sleepy because he takes a lot of medication), at the playground. It’s here that a pigeon speaks to her in a British accent. His name is Arthur Whitehair, and he’s tied to a fence by balloon string (“Oh, for a pair of hands!” he cried dramatically. “My kingdom for a pair of hands!”). “Give me a break,” Jennifer mutters, trying to ignore what she assumes is a prank. Eventually, she unties the string rather than see the bird hurt himself. Then a hawk attacks, yelling, “Give me that pigeon!” Jennifer, James, and Sleepy escape with Whitehair through the vast park, learning that the hawk, Malman, has been after his quarry for 180 years. Can this bizarre situation have anything to do with the dreams Jennifer’s been having about a monk who speaks to her in Latin? After all, Omnia causa fiunt means “Everything happens for a reason.” In this raucous jaunt through Manhattan’s canopied centerpiece, Rothman-Hicks and Hicks (Kate and the Kid, 2016, etc.) educate and entertain. Younger readers learn facts about birds, such as they “are safe in a flock because the whole group of them moving...at once confuses the predator.” The authors’ trim prose often captures the loveliness of specific Central Park areas, like the Ramble, “famous for its many trees and bushes and hills, and trails that twisted around like over-cooked spaghetti.” As the narrative opens up to include Jennifer’s wealthy classmate Kaytlyn and a kind, homeless man, Mr. Bags, the audience benefits from the exploration of as many perspectives as possible. Scenes involving Malman’s awful partner, Drescher, are just menacing enough. The mystery surrounding Whitehair and his nemesis receives a quirky buildup and a heartwarming resolution. Readers should welcome sequels.

A learned, laugh-out-loud New York City fantasy for all ages.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77127-825-6

Page Count: 220

Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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ON THE NIGHT YOU WERE BORN

A beautiful tribute to the uniqueness of every child: “On the night you were born, the moon smiled with such wonder that the stars peeked in to see you and the night wind whispered, ‘Life will never be the same.’ ” The wind and the rain whispered the new babe’s name, causing animals all over the world to rejoice. And if ever that child thinks that he is unloved, all he need do is listen to the wind and look around at nature—they will remind him of just how special and loved he is. New parents and grandparents will get teary as they celebrate with the author the wonder and marvel that is their newborn baby, while young listeners will be thrilled at being the center of creation’s attention. Neither group will notice the uneven rhyme scheme employed in the text or the failure of the author to carry through in encouraging parent and child to interact. The focus will be on the paint-and-collage illustrations, rich in color and incorporating words from the text. Perfect for lap sharing with a beloved little one. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-9765761-0-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Darling Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2005

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