Once the story’s lesson is revealed, there is little reason to read this one again.

OZZIE AND THE ART CONTEST

Ozzie enters the art contest at school only to be disappointed at the results.

When Ozzie’s teacher, Miss Cattywhompus, announces the upcoming art contest to her class, Ozzie is especially excited. (Though most elementary teachers would not host an art contest, it does serve to get the plot going.) Ozzie loves to draw (and skateboard and fold paper), and he knows he will draw the best goat. On the day of the big announcement, he is sad to see his pictures on the bottom row with the other honorable-mention pictures. His blue mood is reflected in his demeanor. His teacher tries to cheer him up, but nothing works until she points out that his misreading of the instructions is the real reason he didn’t win. The lessons could not be more obvious: Read the directions carefully and enjoy the process, even if you do not win. The cartoon style, in ink and watercolor on broad expanses of white, is the right choice for this light tale. The messy typeface might challenge new readers, though. Youngsters will feel in on the joke when they notice that all the winning pictures are of boats, and all the also-rans are of something else.

Once the story’s lesson is revealed, there is little reason to read this one again. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58536-820-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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