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THE SUN PLAYED HIDE-AND-SEEK

A PERSONIFICATION STORY

A sophisticated concept that will require some active teaching to communicate it.

An illustrated primer that explains personification even as it employs it.

Cleary here tackles the concept of personification with the graphic assistance of Dublin-based illustrator Crimmins, making her picture-book debut. While other classmates are assigned “similes” and “puns,” Cleary’s primary-grade first-person speaker must give a presentation on the heady topic of personification, “something that gives human traits to stuff that isn’t people”—not exactly Webster’s definition but descriptive enough to get the creative wheels turning. Speaking in rhymed verse, the young girl reveals: “That ‘stuff’ could be a garbage truck, December, or the wind— / a noun that has no heartbeat, eyes, or mouth. / It compares what something does to things that people do, / like ‘Angry storms are marching through the South.’ ” Crimmins subtly doubles down on the fun with playful mixed-media illustrations, which depict a diverse classroom. Amber D. (a white girl assigned “similes”) holds a raspberry-pink lunchbox that features the face of a pig and says “hungry as a…,” while Angelo (a black boy tasked with “puns”) sports a T-shirt emblazoned with a strawberry-iced doughnut ringed by the cheery message “donut worry be happy.” Though Cleary cleverly employs numerous examples of personification as his speaker (who has light-brown skin, brown hair, and freckles) works through her project, they beg the question whether the children most likely to understand the concept will appreciate the picture-book format.

A sophisticated concept that will require some active teaching to communicate it. (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2648-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 1

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

In this entertaining chapter book, the first in a series, readers meet kind Sir Sidney and the gentle performers and hands in his circus. But Sir Sidney is tired and leaves the circus under the management of new-hire Barnabas Brambles for a week.

That Sir Sidney is beloved by all is quickly established, presenting a sharp contrast to the bully Brambles. The scoundrel immediately comes up with a “to do” list that includes selling the animals and eliminating the mice Bert and Gert. (Gert is almost more distressed by Brambles’ ill-fitting suit and vows to tailor it.) Revealed almost entirely through dialogue, the put-upon animals’ solidarity is endearing. The story, like the circus train now driven by the Famous Flying Banana Brothers, takes absurd loops and turns. The art is fully integrated, illustrating the action and supplementing the text with speech bubbles, facsimile letters and posters, Brambles’ profit-and-loss notes, examples of Gert’s invented vocabulary and more. Brambles’ plans go awry, of course, and he gets his comeuppance. With Bert and Gert acting as his conscience, along with a suit from Gert that finally fits and a dose of forgiveness, Brambles makes a turnaround. Sensitive children may doubt Sir Sidney’s wisdom in leaving his animals with an unscrupulous man, and the closing message is a tad didactic, but that doesn’t blunt the fun too much.

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61620-244-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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