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That it’s the “best-known and best-loved bridge in the world” is arguable; if it is, one wonders why it needs a...

Gray bridges abound, but there’s only one major one that’s orange—and here’s how that happened.

Striving for whimsy when he’s not being patronizing—“It was a long trip, but the pieces of steel did not mind, for they are inanimate objects”—Eggers tracks the building of the Golden Gate Bridge from rejected design proposals (“It was functional, but it was grotesque”) on. Along with giving the bridge’s innovative features a light once-over, he introduces the project’s three main architects. One had designed the Manhattan Bridge, “believed to be in or near New York City,” as Eggers coyly puts it; another led the populist campaign to keep the finished structure the International Orange with which its prefabricated steel parts were (and still are) coated because it “somehow looked right.” Whether young readers will find these observations, or such lines as, “Sometimes the things humans make baffle even the humans who make them,” illuminating is anybody’s guess. In broad collages assembled from large pieces of cut paper, Nichols illustrates the enterprise with stylized portrait heads and abstract views of golden hills set against blue (or sometimes gray) expanses of sea and sky. The finished bridge poses grandly in several.

That it’s the “best-known and best-loved bridge in the world” is arguable; if it is, one wonders why it needs a self-conscious, 104-page picture book to draw attention to it. (jacket poster) (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-940450-47-6

Page Count: 104

Publisher: McSweeney’s

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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