Inventing 38 fresh limericks is a feat in itself, with not a dud in the lot and more than a fair share of hilarity; and these are held together by a delightful cast of sumptuously dressed pigs and illustrated with Lobel's special blend of delectable, decorous absurdity. Before you get to the first limerick you'll be captivated by the beautifully outlandish parade of pigs that marches along the contents page. And you'll be won by the first entry, about ". . . an old pig with a pen/ who wrote stories and verse now and then./ To enhance these creations,/ He drew illustrations/ With brushes, some paints and his pen." As pictured, this old pig, who also appears on the cover and in the closing entry ("There was an old pig with a pen/ Who had finished his work once again. . ."), wears the same mustache and eyeglasses seen in the author's photo on the jacket flap. Among his company are a pig who "nightly slumbers with eggs on his head" (for a quick breakfast in bed) and another who wakens to ten gambling mice on his bed. On facing pages are a "warm pig from Key West" and a cold one amusingly bundled in 16 coats that fan out like leaves in an open book. Later, a patched "poor pig on the street" (behind him, a cityscape that is both grubby and pastel pretty) faces a pompous "rich pig from Palm Springs," strutting along smug as you please in a ludicrous belt of rings and bracelets. The pictures can please with the spectacle of ". . . the light pig from Montclair" who, "Dressed in feathers, . . . floated in air"—or tease with the impossible sights of the fast pig's legs leaving him behind or the vague pig's floating roof (he "had lost all his windows and walls"). Or they can simply amuse, with the spouting long neck of the pig from Schenectady or the "oodles/ Of pretzels and noodles" consumed by one sad pig to turn his straight tail curly. (It works.) For Lobel, a silk purse would be child's play.

Pub Date: May 1, 1983

ISBN: 0064431630

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983

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A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist.


This follow-up to How To Read a Story (2005) shows a child going through the steps of creating a story, from choosing an idea through sharing with friends.

A young black child lies in a grassy field writing in a journal, working on “Step 1 / Search for an Idea— / a shiny one.” During a walk to the library, various ideas float in colorful thought bubbles, with exclamation points: “playing soccer! / dogs!” Inside the library, less-distinct ideas, expressed as shapes and pictures, with question marks, float about as the writer collects ideas to choose from. The young writer must then choose a setting, a main character, and a problem for that protagonist. Plotting, writing with detail, and revising are described in child-friendly terms and shown visually, in the form of lists and notes on faux pieces of paper. Finally, the writer sits in the same field, in a new season, sharing the story with friends. The illustrations feature the child’s writing and drawing as well as images of imagined events from the book in progress bursting off the page. The child’s main character is an adventurous mermaid who looks just like the child, complete with afro-puff pigtails, representing an affirming message about writing oneself into the world. The child’s family, depicted as black, moves in the background of the setting, which is also populated by a multiracial cast.

A lovely encouragement to young writers to persist. (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5666-8

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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From the artist who created last year's shoutingly vivid Growing Vegetable Soup, a companion volume about raising a flower garden. "Mom and I" plant bulbs (even rhizomes), choose seeds, buy seedlings, and altogether grow about 20 species. Unlike the vegetables, whose juxtaposed colors were almost painfully bright, the flowers make a splendidly gaudy array, first taken together and then interestingly grouped by color—the pages vary in size here so that colored strips down the right-hand side combine to make a broad rainbow. Bold, stylish, and indubitably inspired by real flowers, there is still (as with its predecessor) a link missing between these illustrations with their large, solid areas of color and the real experience of a garden. The stylized forms are almost more abstractions than representations (and why is the daisy yellow?). There is also little sense of the relative times for growing and blooming—everything seems to come almost at once. Perhaps the trouble is that Ehlert has captured all the color of the garden, but not its subtle gradations or the light, the space, the air, and the continual movement and change.

Pub Date: March 21, 1988

ISBN: 0152063048

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988

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