Kids will enjoy the silliness, and there’s lots of potential for the classroom.



Themed alphabet books are like the Little Engine that Could—they just keep on comin’.

This one is based on the author/illustrator’s personal experience in Kenya. A young man named Kay Kay promises the children at a new school in his village that he will paint the plain white walls with animals from A to Z. As he walks along looking for inspiration, he meets groups of animals too busy at playing “jackstones” or reading riddles to help. They are obvious (to readers) choices, though Kay Kay doesn’t realize it. As he continues his jaunt, each threesome of animals joins in the trek behind him, ending in a complete animal alphabet. The animals he encounters are highlighted in green: “ ‘Kay Kay, come dance with us!’ shouted Baboon, Crocodile, and Dragonfly.” Most of these animals are relatively familiar, with the possible exceptions of Nyala, Quagga, Upupa Bird, Vervet and Xerus Squirrel. The loosely energetic, cartoon illustrations are lively with capricious details. The backmatter includes a glossary of typical Swahili words such as “please” and “bathroom,” as well as such comic phrases as “My brother picks his nose” and “No more broccoli, thank you.” There is also an author’s note, photos of the real Kay Kay and the Star of Hope School, and a map, but unfortunately there is no key to the animal names.

Kids will enjoy the silliness, and there’s lots of potential for the classroom. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-58536-905-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.


A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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