Overall, this misses the mark and won’t wing its way to success.



A rhymed text explores the imaginary places where a book can transport a reader.

“It has pages and pictures, / a cover, it’s true, / even words and a writer— / and readers like you. / It can do anything / that you want it to do. / But this is not a book. // Because books do not have wings.” All kinds of magical things can be found in the pages of this not-a-book. Readers whirl up a complicated agglomeration of gears into the clouds to clockwork cities and a pirate ship, as the text continues his protestations that it is not a book. Text notwithstanding, it’s the artwork that evokes the imagination and captures the eye as two children, one dark-skinned with short, black, curly hair and the other fair-skinned with long, blond hair, experience various adventures. The illustrations blend the quirkiness of Henrik Drescher with the detailing of Graeme Base in vivid colors and intriguing images. The rhymes tend to get in the way of the images they are describing, however. “This, here, is a submarine, / a never-look-back, pretend-it machine, / to explore the depths / of the vast marine / with urchins, seaweed, / and schools of sardines. / Come closer, dear reader, / and see the unseen— / this thing that’s not a book.” The repetition of the title phrase feels both precious and monotonous, muddying the conceit—which stands a very good chance of actually confusing readers.

Overall, this misses the mark and won’t wing its way to success. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-58536-964-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.



From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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