WHO’S THAT TRIPPING OVER MY BRIDGE?

Renowned storyteller and retired children’s-literature professor Salley debuts as a children’s author with a retelling of the Three Billy Goats Gruff story set in her home territory of southern Louisiana. The goats in question live upriver from New Orleans in East Feliciana Parish. They decide to fatten themselves up in the hills of West Feliciana, and to get there they must cross the old wooden bridge at Thompson Creek. But a great big ugly troll that loves to gobble anything crossing that bridge lives underneath. Each of the three goats pass by, the first two outwitting the troll, the third out-muscling it. Those who know her from numerous appearances at conferences and libraries around the country will hear echoes of Salley’s distinctive voice and delivery, as the troll challenges each goat. Dixon (The Cajun Night After Christmas, not reviewed) cagily disdains draftsmanship for the kind of wild, loose paint strokes, splatters, bits of collage, and bright colors which young children might take as their own. The effect is a mirror to the rising and falling volume and onomatopoeia Salley uses to energize this old Norwegian folk tale. Salley has retired only from teaching as she proves that her expert storytelling skills are still in full bloom in this auspicious read-aloud. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56554-890-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Pelican

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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