This story about finding the extraordinary in everyone gives readers something to crow about.

READ REVIEW

ZANZIBAR

Animals explore what it means to be remarkable in this earnest, mellow story.

Zanzibar the crow enjoys mushroom omelets, singing (poorly), and spending time with friends. An unexpected knock on the door from a reporter, lizard Achille LeBlab, changes Zanzibar’s course of action when he is forced to confront his humdrum life. After comparing himself to other creatures who can sing, play chess, and dive from great heights, Zanzibar vows to take action and complete a venture worth a write-up in the local newspaper, The Voice of the Forest. To impress LeBlab, Zanzibar sets out on an exceptional journey, heading south on the advice of a sea gull. He meets a fennec fox and a dromedary who coach him through temporary discouragement and celebrate with him when he reaches his goal (to lift the dromedary “with a single wing”). Supportive and thoughtful models of friendship shine in this story, and unexpected vocabulary choices will engage readers. Valckx’s tricolor sketches have a charming vintage feel. However, many adult readers won’t be able to ignore the imagery of a black crow paired inexplicably with an African name, which has problematic historical connotations in the United States if not in France, where this book was first published.

This story about finding the extraordinary in everyone gives readers something to crow about. (Animal fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-776572-55-7

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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