TALK TO ME ABOUT THE ALPHABET

Phonics with a difference. Mixing sense and sound in ways reminiscent of his several tributes to jazz greats, Raschka (Be Boy Buzz, 2002, etc.) cajoles readers into a sonic give-and-take as he—or rather, a gent in a brown suit and homburg, with a cat, a motorized “velocipede,” and a few other props—tells off the letters. “Give me A is for Attitude that often says ‘Ah’. Give me B is for Bossy. Bah, bah, bah.” His freely brushed figures float across the pages in characteristically exuberant poses, and toward the end of the recitation a mini-plotline develops, as it gets to be Time to get Up, climb aboard that Velocipede (“Way-cool Wheels. Wuh, wuh”) and make an eXit, Yo! “Auf Wiedersehen!” the narrator calls out as he zzzzz’s away, “Talk to me again!” Read this to your favorite emergent readers, and they may be tempted to do just that. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8050-6782-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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RUSSELL THE SHEEP

Scotton makes a stylish debut with this tale of a sleepless sheep—depicted as a blocky, pop-eyed, very soft-looking woolly with a skinny striped nightcap of unusual length—trying everything, from stripping down to his spotted shorts to counting all six hundred million billion and ten stars, twice, in an effort to doze off. Not even counting sheep . . . well, actually, that does work, once he counts himself. Dawn finds him tucked beneath a rather-too-small quilt while the rest of his flock rises to bathe, brush and riffle through the Daily Bleat. Russell doesn’t have quite the big personality of Ian Falconer’s Olivia, but more sophisticated fans of the precocious piglet will find in this art the same sort of daffy urbanity. Quite a contrast to the usual run of ovine-driven snoozers, like Phyllis Root’s Ten Sleepy Sheep, illustrated by Susan Gaber (2004). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-059848-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2005

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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