Stiff and stylized in the polished deco-style paintings, Angelo looks like a mannequin as he goes about pumping gas at Lucky's all-night garage, circa 1939. As his shift progresses, Angelo serves a foxy lady biker who outlines her mouth ``with the brightest red lipstick Angelo has ever seen,'' an opera-singing Italian papa and his five children, and a bus full of cranky musicians. A bride and groom in a leaky convertible sit out a sudden storm (``some honeymoon''), and a fashionable drunk in ``top hat and tails as rumpled/as an unmade bed'' mooches a nickel for the candy machine. The jazzy design and bold, shiny artwork command more attention than the story; the string of unrelated incidents will recall old movies and other sources of nostalgia for adults but may not satisfy young children. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-7868-0200-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes’ journeys in the quest for education and learning.


A child braves floodwaters and embarks on an adventure.

The Mekong Delta is home to the young Vietnamese narrator anticipating a big day: “I wake up with the sun creeping into the sky and wait for tide and time to bring to me my little open boat.” Venturing on a familiar trip—yet alone for the first time—the child stands and paddles into the waves, steadied by a backpack, cautious confidence, and words of parental encouragement. Panoramic illustrations with the feel of animation create a magical cinematic effect that renders scenery and motion through multiple perspectives, capturing atmospheric weather patterns and magnificent tropical flora and fauna—some highly dangerous and threatening. The self-aware text draws astute metaphoric parallels between the landscape and the classroom the child journeys to. Anxiety over “a thousand” prying eyes and “scary” places dissipates as courage and knowledge prompt the child to “turn the unfamiliar into family...write my name across the blackboard of the river.” Sumptuously textured landscapes detailing lotuses and inky swells create vivid contrasts while reminding viewers of the ecosystem’s fragile balance. This solo voyage concludes as the child approaches the school on dry land, greeted by friendly water buffalo “galumphing near the shore” and other children, many with gap-toothed smiles that match the narrator’s. The book closes with further information about the Mekong River and its delta. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes’ journeys in the quest for education and learning. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30626-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A pleaser for fans of big rigs and disaster scenarios alike.


An international gallery of air, sea, and land firefighting and rescue vehicles, with hinged flaps offering peeks inside each.

Drawn with Biesty’s trademark attention to fine detail and printed on stiff cardboard, the eight featured vehicles include an Australian police car festooned with cameras and other high-tech gear, a NATO submarine rescue pod, a big New York City fireboat, and a British Tamar-class motorized lifeboat. Explanatory labels and small views of the vehicle in action or of other makes with similar jobs surround the large central image. Though the artist apparently can’t resist adding an occasional cutaway view, the flaps are designed to be almost invisible at first glance so that viewers can get a sense of what each vehicle actually looks like before they start delving into insides and distinctive gear. The labeling is sometimes perfunctory—the contents of a helicopter ambulance’s baggage compartment are generically dubbed “Emergency equipment,” and a ground-based ambulance features “privacy windows,” whatever that means—but overall the text adds informative notes about specialized features, life-saving capabilities, power plants, top speeds, and other performance data.

A pleaser for fans of big rigs and disaster scenarios alike. (Informational novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7959-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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