CECIL BUNIONS AND THE MIDNIGHT TRAIN

The Paraskevases (Gracie Graves and the Kids from Room 402, 1995, etc.) take readers on another foray into bizzaroland. At midnight, a young boy stands on a station platform, far from the warm precincts of his bed. A train awaits him, but his fellow passengers are a very strange assortment—blockheads, devilish types, extraterrestrials, creatures right out of an intergalactic bistro. Above the din, ever so faintly, the boy hears the train's sinister warning: ``Never coming, never coming, never coming back.'' In the dining car, he runs across another humanoid, Cecil (``I know my onions'') Bunions, a private eye. Bunions, hearing the train's mad refrain, fashions an elegant escape for the boy. The narrator bumps into Bunions a couple of weeks later and is never sure whether he's had a dream or a magical mystery tour. This piece of artful entertainment has plenty going for it—a touch of the forbidden (the boy is led to the station by a stranger), hair-raising illustrations that are ghoulish and surreal, a tone long on irony. The rhyming is imperfect, but it may not matter: This is not a book to read at bedtime. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-292884-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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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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