Cooperation, teamwork and creative problem solving taken to new levels make this a great choice, no matter what the season.

PERFECT SNOW

Most snow-themed books celebrate a day off from school, but Reid’s latest just may have kids hoping for their own snow-filled recess. 

Scott and Jim wake up to snow. The fact that school is not called off does not blunt their enthusiasm one bit. Once at school, both occupy their desks, but their thoughts are already outside. And when the recess bell finally rings, Scott works on creating the “World’s Greatest Snowman,” while Jim constructs an “indestructible Snow Fortress of Doom.” Trouble is, neither is very successful—Scott’s one snowman turns into a team, each better than the previous one, while meanwhile the rest of the schoolyard becomes a snow-grabbing melee as all the children run out of snow at the same time. Jim narrowly manages to save Scott’s snowmen from the fracas. At lunchtime, the two hatch a plan to combine their ideas and their snow. Their solution is so cool that the whole schoolyard pitches in to help create “The World’s Greatest Totally Massive Snowman Fort.” Reid’s trademark Plasticine artwork gives wonderful depth and texture to the pages, while the details she includes are impressive, a chain-link fence and superhero pajamas among them. Black-and-white ink-and-watercolor panels keep the focus on the main illustrations while also rounding out the story.

Cooperation, teamwork and creative problem solving taken to new levels make this a great choice, no matter what the season. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6492-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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