MONEY MADNESS

If there is one thing that makes the Dismal Science a shade less dismal, it’s money, as in currency. As Adler points out up front, “People want money because it can be used to buy things.” Right, but as a thing in itself, it’s pretty fascinating. Animals as money, rocks, feathers, salt, fishhooks, purple beads made from clamshells are all intriguing—including their drawbacks, like your money dying on you if it happens to be a donkey—as is Adler’s elemental explanation of bartering and exchange and the gradual evolution of money from precious metal to artful paper to the woefully drab plastic and digital varieties. Adler is less successful trying to make sense of how money reflects value, explaining that when the cost of ice cream goes down a dollar may buy an extra scoop but not getting at what circumstances may cause this. Miller’s flat, digital artwork is solid throughout, providing a cheery Uncle Sam as a guide with simple stylized images set to swaths of yeasty color, flowing easily with the narrative and surprisingly emotive. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1474-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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NOT A STICK

In a near carbon copy of her debut (Not a Box, 2006), Portis brings to life the imaginative properties inherent in an average stick. As a small pig plays blithely with its new toy, an omnipresent narrator questions and warns the animal about the wisdom of waving about the large pointy object. The pig, for its part, repeats again and again its insistence that this is not a stick. Dark blue lines allow readers to imagine—along with the animal—several feats of derring-do and wonder accomplished with the stick-turned-fishing rod/marching baton/cowboy’s pony, etc. At the end, the pig triumphantly names its toy a “Not-a-Stick” and leads an imaginary dragon off in triumph. Accusations of Portis copycatting her original book are almost irrelevant in the face of this book’s cheer. Certainly one hopes that she will someday find a new format for her creative drive, but at least this sequel has enough charm and understated pizzazz to allow its creator to work her magic one more time. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-112325-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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