A wonderfully illustrated, not-too-serious story that may make children eager to visit a mouse town and try taffy hairstyles.

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NALAH GOES TO MAD MOUSE CITY

A mischievous young girl visits a mouse city and invites all its residents to a picnic in this boldly illustrated tale by Sawyer-Aitch (Nalah and the Pink Tiger, 2013).

Nalah is in a foul mood on the day of a family picnic. All her imaginary friends, who were introduced in her previous picture book, have gone on adventures without her. Bored and left to her own devices, she makes just enough mischief to get sent to her room. Luckily, Mad Tooth Mouse, who eats socks from Nalah’s sock drawer, shows up to listen to her complaints. With a little bit of magic, Mad Tooth shrinks Nalah down so that she can visit Mad Mouse City, and there, she discovers that she’s a hero. After an impromptu celebration and dance party, she invites the mice back to her family’s picnic. Now normal-sized, Nalah convinces all her siblings and cousins—a wonderfully multihued group—to make taffy for their mice guests. Soon, more mischief ensues when the children and mice must eat their way out of a taffy explosion. Although the story isn’t terribly linear—there’s no real explanation, for example, of why making taffy is suddenly the thing to do—it’s so much fun that it doesn’t really matter. Children will giggle at Nalah’s antics, and they’ll be engrossed by the brightly colored, chaotic images. Sawyer-Aitch uses a technique she calls “illuminated illustration,” based on her own shadow-puppet work, which results in abstract, textured background images with details that will have young readers poring over the pages again and again. The text is placed among the illustrations, and although the format may make the words difficult for newly independent readers to pick out, the work is worth it, if only to read about the “jewel-black eyes” of the mice and the promise of a picnic with “hot dogs and Pho.”

A wonderfully illustrated, not-too-serious story that may make children eager to visit a mouse town and try taffy hairstyles.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692342954

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Magic Lantern Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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