An entertaining tale about taking on fresh responsibilities and achieving a new status.

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CURSE OF SAP RIVER

A lacewing whose family wrangles aphids hopes she can earn her lasso in this chapter book for children ages 7 to 10.

Young Libby Lacewing loves her life in Farmer Owens’ apple orchard, where her family’s job is to herd destructive aphids into the Wild, which is the forest to the west. All winter, Libby has hoped for her own lasso in anticipation of spring, but she got only a new pair of leaf boots and a cowboy hat. She’ll have a chance to prove herself as a wrangler, though, when her grandfather asks her to take a leaf of aphids across Sap River. Libby’s cousin Lars predicts disaster, betting she’ll lose every aphid. Her friend Oliver, “a self-proclaimed Junior knight”—in reality, a ladybug from a Midwestern garden’s English rosebush—passes on a prophecy from the lightning bugs: Sap River is cursed, and crossing it means losing something, being immersed in water, and taking a ride on a swamp creature. After getting her five aphids onto a leaf, Libby sets off poling through sticky Sap River but soon runs into trouble, losing her cargo. Vowing to find the insects again, Libby searches with Oliver—and discovers a whole aphid ranch run by ants. With a plan, some luck, and courage, Libby might be able to risk the curse and get all the aphids to the Wild. West (The Monster of Bogbean Swamp, 2018) admits in a coda that lacewings and ladybugs actually eat aphids rather than safely relocating them, but that doesn’t get in the way of this enjoyable coming-of-age tale that cleverly calls on Western tropes. The adventures, rescues, and three-part curse have excitement and unexpected twists, such as an aphid stampede. Oliver is an excellent and doughty companion (“Do not fear,” he reassures Libby when a spider attacks. “I have mastered the art of web fung shu”). Libby’s jeering cousin, meanwhile, makes a good foil as someone to overcome. The vintage-feeling, black-and-white illustrations by Pavlova (The Monster of Bogbean Swamp, 2018, etc.) are dynamic and amusing.

An entertaining tale about taking on fresh responsibilities and achieving a new status.

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-983683-75-6

Page Count: 42

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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CINDERELLA

This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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