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From the Words Are CATegorical series

Perhaps not the best, but better than many grammar books—definitely one to check out.

Cleary and Gable, those relatively cool cats, continue their Words are CATegorical series with this entry about comparatives and superlatives.

Taking comparatives and superlatives in turn, Cleary walks readers through the basic rule of adding -er/-est, then branches out to state that sometimes “more” or “most” is added at the front instead, and there are some words that have no set rules (good, bad, far). “Try taking a / describing word, / like bright. / Now add e-r. / You’ve made it a comparative / to name the brighter star.” Gable’s illustrations are the true stars here, his feline characters brimming with personality. The “brighter” spread features a sunglasses-clad, red-carpet star preening for a camera. The facing page shows the spotlights and cameras trained on a flashier diva, the original looking on in consternation. Bright backgrounds provide contrast for the cats’ hues, while the comparatives and superlatives are printed in color, contrasting with the black text. While Cleary nails his rhythms and rhymes for the most part, the sheer implausibility and craziness of some of his choices (the “longest curl” on a cat?) may give readers pause and interrupt the flow. Too, readers will want to savor the zaniness introduced by Gable’s pictures: “quietest” and “queasiest” sit side by side on a ride, the one a mime with a finger to his lips, the other a shocking shade of green.

Perhaps not the best, but better than many grammar books—definitely one to check out. (grammar rules) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7613-5362-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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