Big on visual appeal if short on storytelling innovation.

READ REVIEW

THE LITTLE GIRL WHO WANTED TO BE BIG

Growing pains abound in this follow-up to internet star Engledow’s The Little Girl Who Didn’t Want to Go to Bed (2017).

As in his previous title and his online work, Engledow uses humorous, digitally manipulated, composite photographs of his daughter, a blonde white girl. In this story, she wants to grow up quickly in order to do “big things,” and she tries various tactics to make herself grow. While one photo shows her arms lengthened to unnatural proportions after stretching with weights, it’s not until she follows her parents’ advice to “think big” that she awakens transformed into a larger-than-life child. Towering over her parents, she now rides atop the family station wagon instead of in her car seat, and she does “big things,” too: from washing the roof of her house to “serving her country” by lifting the dome off the Capitol building to declare “You’ll never accomplish big things if you keep acting like little children.” This moment feels rather self-important and off-mark in terms of child appeal, but subsequent spreads are stronger as they show the giant girl sitting on a mountaintop and eventually snoozing on a distant planet as though it were an exercise ball. The imaginative conclusion finds her reunited with her parents, glad to be their little girl.

Big on visual appeal if short on storytelling innovation. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-242539-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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