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The mind behind the redoubtable Captain Underpants teams up with a new illustrator for a new series, featuring a pipsqueak mouse and his humongous metal friend. Enraged when his new robot refuses to destroy nearby Squeakyville, mad doctor Stinky McNasty turns a classroom lizard into a monster with a drop of Hate Potion #9. In the meantime, the robot, having bonded with little Ricky, intimidated the bullies who threw his backpack in the garbage, and taken up residence in his garage, lumbers into battle, saving the day in a flurry of reader-animated “Flip-O-Rama” scenes. In thick-lined cartoons, the hamfisted robot looks like Popeye in sheet metal; the bad guys all have squinty eyes; the fight is all. Children younger than the Captain’s readership may find this droll, but Pilkey’s just treading water; so rudimentary is the plot, so stock the characters, and so free is this of humor, that it may sink like the proverbial lead balloon. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-30719-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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Baker (Big Fat Hen, 1994, etc.) engages in more number play, posing ducklings in every combination of groups, e.g., “Splashing as they leap and dive/7 ducklings, 2 plus 5.” Using a great array of streaked and dappled papers, Baker creates a series of leafy collage scenes for the noisy, exuberant ducklings to fill, tucking in an occasional ladybug or other small creature for sharp-eyed pre-readers to spot. Children will regretfully wave goodbye as the ducks fly off in neat formation at the end of this brief, painless introduction to several basic math concepts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-292858-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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