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DRAGON DANCING

In school, the teacher reads a book about dragons, and the students are enthralled. Later, in art, while making decorations for Mei Lin’s birthday, Mei Lin announces that she is Birthday Dragon and places a crown of paper candles on her head. Her classmates excitedly join in, providing properly shaped (“boink-boink”) eyes, a nose, a “ricky-rack” back, a tail, feathers, spangles and scales. Together, the children begin to dance, and lo and behold, the “sparkle-head” dragon is born. He frolics around the room and slips right out the door on a flight of fancy that leads the class through China—over mountaintops, across seas, through forests, along marshes, around meadows and under cherry-blossom trees. Until, that is, their teacher calls them back for a savory birthday snack. “Grr-umble-yumble-YUMMM!” The simple, imaginative text is replete with onomatopoeia, and colorful, flowing illustrations perfectly depict the adventurous multi-ethnic class on their exciting journey. A fun-filled tribute to the powers of cooperation and the imagination. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-06084-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2006

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I WANT A HIPPOPOTAMUS FOR CHRISTMAS

The words to a Christmas song from the 1950s serve as the text for this exploration of a most unusual Christmas gift. An unnamed little girl in pink pajamas is the first-person narrator, explaining in detail why she wants a hippopotamus as her present. Various views of the hippo are shown in a slightly confusing, nonlinear time sequence, but then why would time proceed in a straightforward fashion with a hippo in the house? Santa is shown pushing the hippo through the door, and the following pages show the little girl caring for her hippo, unwrapping it as a Christmas package (a different packaging treatment is shown on the cover), and then flying off with Santa as the hippo pulls the sleigh. Though the little girl and the words to the song are rather ordinary, the lively, lavender hippo in Whatley’s illustrations is a delightful creature, with a big, pink bow on its head and expressive, bulging eyes. (In fact, that hippo deserves a name and a story of its own.) The music and song lyrics are included in the final spread. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-052942-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2005

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PUMPKIN DAY!

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families.

Pumpkins star in this family-centered early reader.

Sketched in rhyming, easy-to-read couplets, this familiar autumn setting is made even warmer by the sweet  family that is making a trip to the pumpkin farm. “Sunny day. Pack a lunch. / In the treetops squirrels munch.” So begins the story of a black mother and father and their young son and daughter. They find their special pumpkins and return home for carving, just in time for trick-or-treating. Mother and father are shown walking hand in hand or gently guiding their youngsters, who are very excited to pick out the perfect gourd. Read aloud, the predictable rhyme scans well, making this a book for emerging readers to read over and over, gaining confidence each time. The full-color illustrations, full of oranges and yellows, match the words, providing important visual cues. Little ones will laugh when the younger brother initially finds a huge pumpkin and rolls it over the hill like a bowling ball. “Thump! Thump! Thump! Then… / Uh-oh!” Eventually, he finds one just the right size for carving. Children of color are remarkably absent in the easy-reader stacks, so it’s an especially welcome treat to see them in this rural setting. Preschool and kindergarten teachers will want to add this to their collections.

A warm and welcome story for emerging readers and their families. (Early reader. 3-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-553-51341-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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