Though the format is attractive, its rambling airiness will disappoint Lindgren fans and have a limited audience.

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IN THE LAND OF TWILIGHT

The third book from this Swedish team relates a fanciful dream tale that sharply contrasts with their realistic previous two (A Calf for Christmas and Goran’s Great Escape, 2010, 2011).

Told in first person by a boy who’s been told he won’t walk again because of a bad leg, the tale recounts his visit to the Land of Twilight with Mr. Lilyvale, who comes through his window. They fly over the sights and scenes of Stockholm, from the spire of St. Clara’s Church to Kronoberg Park, where red and yellow candies grow on trees. The boy drives a tram off a bridge and into a river and then steers a bus to a countryside farm, where he meets a talking moose, dances and eats. Mr. Lilyvale even presents him at court to the King and Queen of the Land of Twilight. Throughout their travels, Mr. Lilyvale repeatedly says, “Nothing really matters in the Land of Twilight,” with the last sentence explicitly affirming the sentiment: “It really doesn’t matter if you have a bad leg, because in the Land of Twilight you can fly.” The message seems questionable here—that your imagination can take you anywhere? At times readers may find themselves wondering if it isn't an extended metaphor for death. The watercolor illustrations waft across the pages, incorporating twilight colors in a breezy style.

Though the format is attractive, its rambling airiness will disappoint Lindgren fans and have a limited audience. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-86315-886-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2012

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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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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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