Belying its title, this uncomplicated journey of discovery barely scratches the grammatical surface.

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KATIE COMMA

A comma searches for her place in the wide classroom-world.

Whisked away by a breeze, a punctuation mark wearily laments a repeated refrain: “I’m Katie Comma. / I feel so alone. / I must start searching / to find my way home.” She hops into different books but is perfunctorily dismissed from the ends of sentences when there should respectively be a period, a question mark, and an exclamation mark (where the accurate punctuation has gone is never addressed). Finally, she “tumble[s] into the middle of a sentence” in the teacher’s book, which is conveniently open to instructions on when to use commas. This, at long last, is “where she belong[s].” No other examples of proper usage appear within the narrative before the final page of story text. The author’s note stresses the importance of the character’s determination and how that relates to readers more than it does grammar. Tracing Katie’s path via her footsteps may provide some extra amusement for young ones. The pictures’ straightforward, bold designs serve to reinforce the content. Katie and her comma family look like many anthropomorphized characters from grade school cartoons. Since the grammar instruction is so slight and other offerings much stronger, the book’s existential quandary rather mirrors Katie’s.

Belying its title, this uncomplicated journey of discovery barely scratches the grammatical surface. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4556-2461-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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