A bold, inspiring work for forward-thinking early readers.


Zephaniah answers that oft-asked adult inquiry, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with 13 examples of everyday grown-ups following their dreams.

His light yet substantial rhymed lyrics and Das’ engaging workplace photographs spotlight a wonderfully provocative array of career options. From Maggie the rocket scientist —“all that Maggie wants to do is / Tour the universe”—to Ness the jumbo-jet pilot, David the farmer or Shami the lawyer—“Nobody should bully you, / Shami knows that this is true”—these verse portraits depict actual professionals who not only love what they do, but whose work enriches the lives of others. American readers may be challenged by a few Briticisms from the likes of Bubblz the “Maths Clown,” vet Michelle—“If your dog is dodgy / Or your snake is sloppy / Michelle can fix it with a pill”—or, most hilariously, Ajmer the “Lollypop Man,” whom American children should easily recognize as a crossing guard, not a purveyor of sweets. Such cultural linguistic differences only heighten the great ethnic, gender and vocational diversity of the collection, offering countless jumping-off points for discussion. In the short bios accompanying the poems and photos, Zephaniah also smartly expands the range of future possibilities to include living in more than one place and the freedom to change your mind a number of times about careers.

A bold, inspiring work for forward-thinking early readers. (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84780-059-6

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...


From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.


A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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