THE BIRTHDAY FISH

In this deceptively simple tale, a child obsessed with ponies doesn’t get one for her birthday. Cynthia is so sure that she’s already picked out a name—Marigold—and such is her disappointment when her gift turns out to be a goldfish, that she heads straight for the drain with it. But when the fish promises to grant her wish if she takes it to the lake instead, she plunks the bowl into her mini-stroller and trots off. Yaccarino creates a retro look for the accompanying art, dressing Cynthia in a school uniform–style blouse, vest and tartan skirt, and placing her in a wide suburban setting of geometrically exact houses and trees. The lake turns out to be a long way off, under a hot sun, over a bumpy sidewalk, past an intent cat and other hazards; the two arrive just in time to admire the sunset. “ ‘It’s late,’ said the goldfish. ‘Yes it is,’ replied Cynthia. ‘Let’s go home now, Marigold.’ ” The bonding falls between the lines, but thoughtful readers and listeners will understand how it happens, and really perceptive ones may even see it coming. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-8050-7493-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2005

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MERCY WATSON TO THE RESCUE

Hilarity and hijinks abound in this tale about a voracious swine with an overweening yen for hot buttered toast. Mercy is the beloved pet pig of the doting Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Mercy sneaks into her owner’s bed one night, her added heft causes the bed to fall partway through the ceiling. Although the besotted Watsons assume Mercy is trotting off to seek help, the only search and rescue Mercy seems to care about involves butter and hot bread. In her quest for some midnight munchies, Mercy awakens the crotchety neighbor. Wild chases and mayhem ensue before help arrives in the guise of firefighters. DiCamillo aims for over-the-top fun with her tale of porcine shenanigans, and Van Dusen’s gouache illustrations provide a comical counterpart to the text. The glossy paintings, with exaggerated caricatures and lively colors, complement DiCamillo’s tone, although the scowling, lantern-jawed visage of the crabby neighbor borders on the unpleasant. With vocabulary that may prove too challenging for a novice, DiCamillo’s tale is best suited for those ready to move up. However, the pacing and the action easily make it right for shared reading. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-7636-2270-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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