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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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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