Clumsy in places but with many charming moments.

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THE WORLD SEEN FROM HERE

In Montesi’s debut chapter book, three children become friends as they learn about themselves, the world around them, and one another.

Elementary school student Beatrice is blonde, freckled, sporty, and loves treehouses. When she hears that Antoine, a red-haired boy in her neighborhood whom she doesn’t know very well, has built one, she feels compelled to go and see it. Antoine is glad that Beatrice is interested and makes an appointment to have tea with her the next day; he also invites his dark-haired, thin friend Giorgio. Antoine is precise and organized; Giorgio is curious and a little clumsy. After their first tea together, the three become friends. Giorgio, who loves animals, introduces Beatrice and Antoine to several different kinds, including red fish, a turtle, tadpoles, a hen, ducklings, multiple trout, and ants, while explaining how to observe and interpret their behaviors. Sometimes the interactions are playful, as when Giorgio seems to understand his pet turtle’s vanity and the need to flatter her; other times, the approach is more scientific, as when the children devise a test of their ducklings’ decision-making skills. The kids also race go-karts and attend a carnival. In these activities, the children discuss different approaches to life; for example, Giorgio is practical, while Beatrice is philosophical. But they find these differences intriguing rather than annoying: “We are all unique, and tolerance for each other makes us live in a world of endless discoveries,” concludes the third-person narrator. This final moral is laid on a little thick, and the book’s beginning is a bit confusing, with an initial “Introduction” followed by “The Real Introduction.” In between, though, Montesi offers many delightful scenes, some of which have an engaging poignancy. For example, the kids find that Clarissa, a hen, is hopelessly in love with Giorgio. Beatrice hilariously explains to the bird that “He will never be able to love you back, especially in the long run.” The kids then intuit that Clarissa believes that “Love is blind, and there is nothing I can do about it.” Such scenes offer much more pleasure than the book’s unsubtle messages about appreciating difference.

Clumsy in places but with many charming moments.

Pub Date: June 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4834-6848-8

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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