While the larger format of the similarly themed Take Away the A, by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo (2014), is more...

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THE ALPHABET THIEF

In rhyming text, this nontraditional alphabet book playfully depicts a thief in the act of stealing the letters of the alphabet from A to Z.

“The Alphabet Thief stole all of the A’s, / And all of the coats became cots. / All of the fairs were turned into firs, / And all of the boats became bots.” The verse never falters as the thief makes her way through the alphabet. Clever handling of the letter Q pairs it with U, turning “queasy” into “easy” and “squash” into “sash.” What the black-cloaked thief doesn’t see is that she is being followed by the narrator, a red-haired, white sleuth in beret and ponytail with a dog sidekick. Can they stop this terrible thief? Of course. The gumshoe takes all the Y’s and Z’s, turns them into slingshots and “ammo” and fires them at the thief, who promptly falls asleep. The ink-and-watercolor illustrations share space with the text in energetically varied layouts, the diminutive trim reminiscent of the old Nutshell Library books. The ending poses a small problem for libraries by addressing readers: “And who was the hero who saved the day? / It was me! You can write my name here.”

While the larger format of the similarly themed Take Away the A, by Michaël Escoffier and Kris Di Giacomo (2014), is more suitable for group sharing, this sneaky romp will do well one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55498877-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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Sweet—and savory.

THE KEEPER OF WILD WORDS

When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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