Cleverly meta and totally fun, with a spoonful of (almost tongue-in-cheek) morals thrown in.


A motley crew of character types argues over what kind of book they are in, in this humorous meta-romp.

The text begins like a rebus: “Aa is for [a drawing of apples]” set on a bright yellow background. The capital A has eyes and a mouth, as does one of the apples in the small pile. But from across the gutter, a brown-skinned, curly-haired girl in a red, hooded cape peeks from the spread beyond, folding back the page and calling, “Hey! This is not an alphabet book!” A is disappointed but joins the girl on the next spread, which reads “ONCE UPON A TIME…” and is set in the woods. The girl assures A that the thing “lurking in the shadows” is going to be a wolf. But on the next spread, she is surprised when it is a robot that declares, “This is not that kind of book.” On come more changes in setting, and characters conscious of their own tropes and types vie for dominance over the narrative until at last they work together to discover the book’s important lesson: that they all belong. The narrative text shares space with dialogue bubbles, reinforcing the feeling of intrusion and interruption. Mantle’s clear and humorous illustrations give characters distinct personalities and go far to increase the playfulness and storyline with fake page turns and no-man’s-land white space.

Cleverly meta and totally fun, with a spoonful of (almost tongue-in-cheek) morals thrown in. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-58029-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.


A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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