Satisfactory—but far from transcendent.

THE BIG RACE

Participation awards are for people who try.

And Aardvark wants to try! On the day of the big race, she sets out to compete in a race that traditionally features the, “fastest, biggest and strongest” animals in town: Cheetah, Buffalo, and Crocodile. Although the trio is skeptically hostile, Aardvark vows that she’ll enter and that she’ll have fun competing. Over a series of obstacles that see the race’s leader change multiple times, Aardvark stays in last place until the final minutes of the race. While the final result may be a bit of a surprise for some readers, the message of inclusion creates a heartwarming end. Barrow’s story is amusing but far from groundbreaking. The colorfully mottled illustrations are bright and inviting, but they may cause the odd head-scratch from astute readers: Why is crocodile in third place during the swimming portion of the race? How did everyone get a hot air balloon except Aardvark? She registered, too. And how, after plummeting from high in the sky, does Aardvark survive when her helium-balloon conveyance pops?? These quirks aside, the book is perfectly adequate. Aardvark makes a comical contrast to the powerful animals, with her stubby legs, elongated snout, and expressively droopy ears.

Satisfactory—but far from transcendent. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61067-880-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

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. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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