Jesse’s pride of ownership and the closing scene of Jesse writing his name and the year in his very first book will resonate...

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THE BOOK BOAT'S IN

A pleasing historical tale about a boy willing to work hard for what he desires most—a book.

“One sunny day, Jesse King and his pa drove into town.” The year is 1835 in an agricultural area. Children will immediately notice colorful barges in the canal. The one that excites Jesse is Mr. Edwards’ book boat, which comes through occasionally. Inside, Jesse quickly spots a red book: his favorite, The Swiss Family Robinson. Jesse longs to own it, but Pa cannot afford it and suggests Jesse might earn the money. The text is laced with dialogue featuring homey turns of phrase, revealing Jesse’s passion for stories and capturing the warmth between the characters. Naïve folk-art–style paintings in bright gouache reflect Jesse’s hopeful, eager nature. Although simply rendered, the facial expressions speak volumes. Jesse cheerfully labors throughout the week at a store, a stable and more, illustrating what life was like in the 19th century. (An author’s note explains the history of floating libraries.) When the book boat comes back, Jesse finds the red book is gone, but Mr. Edwards has a solution.

Jesse’s pride of ownership and the closing scene of Jesse writing his name and the year in his very first book will resonate with book lovers of all ages . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2521-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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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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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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