LUIGI AND THE BAREFOOT RACES

Luigi isn’t the biggest or strongest boy in his city neighborhood, but he is most certainly the fastest.

Summer on Philadelphia’s Regent Street means enjoying barefoot racing, a favorite activity, possibly unique to the neighborhood. Children race each other endlessly, and Luigi is the acknowledged and unbeaten champion. When Mikey Muldoon, a kid from another neighborhood, loses to Luigi, he is angry in defeat and proposes another contest, this time against his unnamed best friend. The anticipation turns to disbelief and shock when Mikey’s best friend turns out to be everyone’s worst nightmare, Mean Max, who is so scary he doesn’t even appear in the illustrations. A terrified Luigi will not go back on his word, and the race is on. It is very close, with first one then the other in the lead. And the winner is Luigi. He has beaten the fiercest opponent of all, but the race spawns a new rule, one that will have readers wondering whether this really happened, or is it a tall tale? Paley sets a breathless pace that keeps readers guessing. The tale is told by a nostalgic witness, and it captures a strong sense of neighborhood pride. Boyd’s bright illustrations move right along with the action and depict a multicultural community from a variety of panoramic and close-up perspectives. An afterword tells of the author’s Philadelphia childhood and provides information about tall tales.

Cheers for Luigi. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-88448-397-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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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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