While sequels can sometimes be disappointing, readers and listeners who enjoyed Miss Brooks’ first appearance will likely be...

MISS BROOKS' STORY NOOK

(WHERE TALES ARE TOLD AND OGRES ARE WELCOME!)

Energetic, book-loving Miss Brooks is back, as is Missy, the grumpy, stumpy, hat-wearing reluctant reader–turned-bookworm who is her biggest fan (Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t), 2010).

This time around, though, there’s a new wrinkle: a boy named Billy who likes to torment Missy and steal her precious hats. Missy mostly manages to avoid him, but sometimes she can’t help but pass by his house, and that’s where the trouble always occurs. When a storm knocks out the lights at school one morning, Miss Brooks decides to take advantage of the atmosphere and have the kids tell stories instead of listening to her read aloud. Although her classmates suggest focusing on aliens, kittens or ghosts, Missy finds herself unexpectedly brainstorming a solution to her problem while concocting a semi-scary story about a neighborhood ogre named Graciela and her very large boa constrictor. Over-the-top silliness in Emberley’s appealing illustrations contrasts with Bottner’s deadpan delivery to amplify the humor, while clever details in the pictures reward close examination. Characters come alive with distinct voices and appearances, and the twin plots flow smoothly, if purposively, to the requisite “happy ending.”

While sequels can sometimes be disappointing, readers and listeners who enjoyed Miss Brooks’ first appearance will likely be very happy to find out what happens next—and they just might be inspired to create some tall tales of their own. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-449-81328-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

WHAT THE ROAD SAID

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

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As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

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