Amiable and encouraging, and too innocent to give even a thought to snow stopping something in its tracks: school.

HENRY GOES SKATING

From the Everything Goes series

Almost everything goes in this latest installment of the Everything Goes early-reader series based on the picture-book series of the same name by Brian Biggs.

It’s snowing, so when a bus gets stuck on an icy road, it is going to have to wait for the tow truck to come. Otherwise, everything does tootle along in this typically mild and kindly outing, an earliest of early readers for those just starting to get their teeth into reading. There is plenty of necessary repetition in the simple text: “ ‘Look, Henry. Horses!’ says Henry’s mom. ‘Police horses,’ says Henry. ‘One is brown and one is white. And one is brown and white.’ ” It combines with enough unusual words (taxis, Zamboni) and constructions (such as the alternating use of  “Henry says” and “says Henry”) to make readers work for the prize of the last page. But as is also typical of these books, the illustrations are in the driver’s seat, literally and figuratively. The book is chockablock with vehicles, as Henry and his parents take a little road trip to the city from the suburbs to go to a skating rink (“Zamboni!”). The illustrations have an ease that keeps eyes flickering between word and image.

Amiable and encouraging, and too innocent to give even a thought to snow stopping something in its tracks: school. (Early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195821-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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