TRAINSTOP

A little girl takes a fantastical train trip in this wordless outing from the creator of other such cozily surreal offerings as The Red Book (2004) and Rainstorm (2007). Gray city yields to perfect green countryside, the magical transition signaled by a four-panel sequence that finds the girl looking out the window at the passing city and the black blur of a tunnel and then, looking back in from the outside, her delighted face. A signalman stops the train, and she alights into a landscape inhabited by wee, toy-sized people. Lehman employs the visual language of serial storytelling in masterly fashion, framing her initial panels within the curvature of the train window; as the adventure expands, scenes outside the train appear within square panels or bleed to the edges of the page, allowing the protagonist and her teensy new friends limitless freedom. After rescuing a Lilliputian pilot from a tree, the little girl re-boards the train and heads back to the city—to which comes unexpected color with the gift of a tiny tree, delivered by a familiar toy plane. Comfortably mind-bending. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 7, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-618-75640-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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VIOLET THE PILOT

Violet Van Winkle is an inventor with a flair for air. Her father manages a junkyard and while other girls play with dolls and tea sets, Violet is busy tinkering with monkey wrenches and needle-nosed pliers building elaborate contraptions, especially flying machines, like her Bicycopter, Pogo Plane and Wing-a-ma-jig. Kids at school make fun of her, but Violet hopes that if she wins an air-show competition with her special plane, The Hornet, they’ll be nice to her. On show day, she carefully calculates her flying time but diverts from her course to rescue a troop of Boy Scouts who have fallen into a river and drops them (literally) at the hospital. Sadly, her heroism makes her too late to enter the air show but her misery evaporates when the mayor presents her with a medal of valor. The comical cover is a grabber: Violet is piloting a homemade plane wearing a helmet and goggles and blowing bubble gum with Orville, her dog’s ears streaming in the wind like her scarf. The cartoon illustrations of watercolor, acrylic and pencil soar with inventive details and angles, e.g. close-up of Violet’s face in midair with bugs on her teeth. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3125-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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