Miss Tingle’s third-grade class is having a talent show. Lamont, Gordie, and Lucy are back in the newest installment of McKenna’s series for new readers (Third Grade Ghouls, 2001, etc.). Almost everyone has some sort of talent. Lucy draws with her eyes closed, Lamont plays the guitar, and Mikey plays the piano with both hands. Gordie, who thinks he has no talent, brags that his dog, Scratch, can do tricks. Unfortunately, that’s a lie and Gordie has a week to teach Scratch to do something—anything. Adding to Gordie’s third-grade misery is the arrival of Red, a new boy in school. Red is not only talkative, wealthy, and acts in television commercials, but he has a professionally trained dog. Gordie’s best friend Lamont is totally smitten with Red and seems to have no time for Gordie. Readers of the previous books in this series will be surprised at Lamont’s shallowness as they watch Red ply him with sleepovers, special trips to see an NBA game, and the like. In the previous novel, Lamont would never break a planned date for fishing, even if it were for something as special as a trip to Cleveland. Lamont redeems himself in the end by reconnecting with Gordie, but it’s a rather neat and tidy ending, even for the predictable world of early chapter books. Gordie’s dog learns his card trick, aided by a smear of beloved peanut butter on the correct card, and Red’s trained dog gets stage fright in front of a full class of elementary-school children. Readers never do learn whether Red finds any friends. Perhaps that’s for another volume. Roth’s delightful and emotional black-and-white illustrations, particularly of the bereft Gordie talking on the phone with Lamont, add a lot to this thin tale. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: June 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1696-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002


From the Rafi and Rosi series

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape.

The fourth installment in Delacre’s early-reader series centers on the rich musical traditions of Puerto Rico, once again featuring sibling tree frogs Rafi and Rosi Coquí.

Readers learn along with Rafi and Rosi as they explore bomba, plena, and salsa in three chapters. A glossary at the beginning sets readers up well to understand the Spanish vocabulary, including accurate phoneticization for non-Spanish speakers. The stories focus on Rafi and Rosi’s relationship within a musical context. For example, in one chapter Rafi finds out that he attracts a larger audience playing his homemade güiro with Rosi’s help even though he initially excluded her: “Big brothers only.” Even when he makes mistakes, as the older brother, Rafi consoles Rosi when she is embarrassed or angry at him. In each instance, their shared joy for music and dance ultimately shines through any upsets—a valuable reflection of unity. Informational backmatter and author’s sources are extensive. Undoubtedly these will help teachers, librarians, and parents to develop Puerto Rican cultural programs, curriculum, or home activities to extend young readers’ learning. The inclusion of instructions to make one’s own homemade güiro is a thoughtful addition. The Spanish translation, also by Delacre and published simultaneously, will require a more advanced reader than the English one to recognize and comprehend contractions (“pa’bajo-pa-pa’rriba”) and relatively sophisticated vocabulary.

A welcome, well-researched reflection of cultural pride in the early-reader landscape. (Early reader. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-89239-429-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Children's Book Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019


Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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