PETER PETER PICKS A PUMPKIN HOUSE

Inspired by “Jack and the Beanstalk” as well as the familiar nursery rhyme, this chapter book tells a middling origin story about Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater’s infamous abode. The farmer and his wife adore every variety of their seasonal crop. When the rain pours into their humble hut, Peter Peter trades their favorite goat for a mysterious bag of treasure. Instead of jewels, the package holds a multitude of pumpkin seeds, and in a tantrum, he stomps them into the field. When the crop yields enormous produce, the couple prepares their sturdy new dwelling. Spare text favors repetition, and short chapters and ample drawings suit newly independent readers. The straightforward sequence of events quickly unfolds, while the couple’s actions maintain traditional gender roles. Earnest dialogue does little to enhance the slight narrative, and occasional rhymes provide lackluster results, as when the farmer sings, “Grow, oh, grow, / oh, pumpkin so / big and round / on the ground.” Boase’s nimble lines add necessary details, outlining facial features and family dynamics, strengthening the story. Though an interesting premise, the final product bears little fruit. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8706-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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