WHO PUT THE B IN BALLYHOO?

THE MOST AMAZING, BIZARRE, AND CELEBRATED CIRCUS PERFORMERS

Beccia’s debut, a fanciful, alphabetical survey of early circus performers, showcases her facility in graphic design. Setting the stage, early-20th-century sepia streetscapes feature a colorful circus bill, the parade of performers to come and a family entering the tent. The ensuing digitally composed mixed-media illustrations, bordered in black, reflect the typography, color palette and iconography of vintage circus posters, presenting the hirsute Lady Esau, tattooed Captain Costentenus and more. Each poster combines the hyperbolic allure of early adverts and an alphabet ditty with a few well-chosen historical facts in crisp white type at the bottom of each page. The weakness here is the text. The rhymed verses do not always scan, and a few slangy words don’t mesh: “R is for round / A zaftig beauty / Ruth’s got girth / & a buxom booty.” The spread featuring conjoined sisters skirts propriety, even given the historical context: “O is for odd / It’s strange but true / The Hilton Twins / Are stuck like glue.” Visually accomplished but textually flawed. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 9, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-60567-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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