Cutesy, but ultimately lacking in substance—there is little here that will draw children (or teachers) for a second reading.

TEDDY BEAR, TEDDY BEAR, SCHOOL DAY MATH

From the McGrath Math series

In the bears’ third outing, the counters, classroom staple that they are, invite readers to follow the cadence of the familiar jump-rope rhyme and answer some simple math questions.

McGrath fixes the who’s-my-audience problem that plagued Teddy Bear Math (2011) by returning to the youngest math learners, but her focus could still use some tightening. Readers are challenged to count, then skip-count, identify a group of four, and tell whether there are fewer of this color or that one. A balance scale allows children to identify which of two bears weighs more. Readers are also asked to tell which group has more than five, complete two different patterns, and solve one addition and one subtraction problem. Throughout, McGrath’s rhyming verses may encourage audiences to do more than math: “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, / a great big laugh. / Which teddy bear / is a bear in half?” The scattershot approach does not go deeply into any one math concept or afford readers any sense of continuity or pattern. As in the previous two titles, Nihoff’s bears coordinate well with the text; this time his hand-drawn digital illustrations are accompanied by collaged found objects.

Cutesy, but ultimately lacking in substance—there is little here that will draw children (or teachers) for a second reading. (Math picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-420-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart.

THE MAGICIAN'S HAT

New England Patriot and literacy advocate Mitchell proves to have a touch of magic as an author as well as on the field.

It’s Family Fun Day at the library, and families of many sizes, constellations, and skin tones are participating. Amid book scavenger hunts and storytelling, a magician arrives. He is white and lanky, sporting a purple polka-dot vest and a bright yellow ascot. But most importantly, he has a very large, mysterious hat. He tells the children how he came to Family Fun Day when he was younger and read his very first book about magic in the library. Turning the pages and getting lost in the words inspired him to become a magician. He realized that it wasn’t just about spells and potions, but that books themselves are magical. Three children reach into the hat and find books about their future professions—Amy, a white girl, is a dentist; Matt, a bespectacled black boy, is a football player; and Ryan, a white boy, is an astronaut. The magician then turns the hat to readers, asking, “What are your dreams?” Previously self-published, the work gets a new look from Lew-Vriethoff’s bustling library and bright swirls of magic and bookish motivation. As an entry in the books-are-awesome genre, it’s mostly distinguished by the author’s clear belief in his message.

Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11454-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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