ONE SMALL GARDEN

Nichol (Trunks All Aboard, not reviewed, etc.) wields a glorious simplicity of language to tell a few true stories and impart a lot of natural history about a garden in the city of Toronto. That glorious simplicity is matched by the radiance of Moser’s (Sit, Truman, p. 1026, etc.) watercolors, where every leaf and petal is rendered in exquisite detail and every cat and raccoon face looks familiar. There are 12 chapters, each further subdivided, so that every section is quite brief and some loop back again to complete a story started earlier. Readers meet the raccoon family and the line of ants on the maple tree by the garden gate in the very first chapter, and their fates and histories come round again at the end. They meet the poisoned gardener who sprayed so much that he vanished as well as the pests. They’ll see the mulberry tree roots and learn the difference between annuals and perennials. There’s Butch the cat and his house, Marjorie who climbed a tree, and Sarah who saw a bear. All of these parts make such an attractive package, to be read eagerly by youngsters entranced by growing things (including themselves). Small print might slow some folks down, but it lends itself to being read aloud, so the rhythm of weeding, watering, mowing, and feeding can be heard by more reluctant readers. A lovely, personal look at nature. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-88776-475-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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