Stimpson’s money-can’t-buy-happiness moral goes down easily with the help of his wonderfully atmospheric artwork.

READ REVIEW

JACK AND THE BAKED BEANSTALK

Stimpson’s authorial debut is a remaking of the timeless fairy tale that includes both a wonderfully fleshed-out city circa the 1930s and an ending that is happy for everyone.

Jack’s Fast Food is a hopping café run by Jack and his mother out of an old, broken-down burger truck. But when the new overpass closes the street out front, Jack and his mom fall on hard times. Per tradition, Jack spends their last coins on a can of magic baked beans, which his furious mother hurls outside. In the morning, Jack climbs the cans-of-beans–festooned beanstalk to find a friendly but lonely giant busily counting his money, “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fummy, / I’m always counting money. / Be it silver or be it gold, / It’ll make me happy— / Or so I’m told.” Jack, the giant, the magic radio and the giant chicken all bond over lunch, but a beanstalk mishap extends their visit indefinitely while opening a whole new chapter for the Baked Beanstalk Café. As in The Polar Express, Stimpson’s artwork masterfully evokes both the mood and setting of the story. Retro styling, colors and type all work together to convey an old-time, urban feel to the digital illustrations, which portray a world where suits and dresses are the dress code (both incomplete without a hat), and the streets are filled with classic cars. 

Stimpson’s money-can’t-buy-happiness moral goes down easily with the help of his wonderfully atmospheric artwork. (Picture book. 3-9)

Pub Date: July 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5563-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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