HOME ON THE RANGE

Leaving behind a bedroom strewn with elaborately detailed toys, a New York lad clad in a Stetson and pj’s rides his rocking horse out west for some riding and roping “where the skies are not cloudy all day.” Ajhar uses four verses of the 19th-century original’s six (the song has had several versions over the years, none of which are credited here), reprised with a new musical arrangement at the end. His visual interpretation isn’t particularly literal—there are plenty of deer playing, but no antelope, and lines like “Where the air is so pure, the zephyrs so free / The breezes so balmy and light” sound odd coming from the preschool-aged protagonist. But the cattle have mobile, expressive countenances, and even children already home on the range will respond to the ditty’s eminently singable sentiment. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2918-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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