NO DOGS ALLOWED!

As far back as she can remember, her grandparent’s horse has been her secret delight, refuge, and confidant, but when it dies, eight-year-old Kristine feels off balance, and instead of grieving, creates an emotional distance to protect herself from further hurt. The first-person narrative examines her progressive withdrawal and close nuclear-family support during her psychological struggle. Kristine thinks she is subtle in her rejection of Grandpa’s gift, a bright cuddly puppy, but Wallace expertly reveals what Kristine has hidden from herself, using her own words. Wallace skillfully builds bibliotherapeutic text rife with internal struggle, yet reveals, beneath the conflict, a happy, healthy, and well-balanced family life infused with warmth and humor. Grandpa and Kristine thieve cookie dough while grandma isn’t looking, homework and chores are dutifully performed, and family well-being always comes first. Despite some didactic text and conversation and phrasing too grown-up for the characters delivering them, cunningly told. (Fiction. 8-9)

Pub Date: June 15, 2004

ISBN: 0-8234-1818-9

Page Count: 214

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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