Satisfactory—but far from transcendent.


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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Another win for Judy and her friends.


From the Judy Moody series , Vol. 15

Determination and hard work prepare Judy Moody as she tests her knowledge of book trivia in a battle of the books.

Judy, little brother Stink, and some familiar classmates from their second and third grade classes are the Virginia Dare School Bookworms, the book quiz champions who will be representing the school in the First Ever Book Quiz Blowout at the Starlight Lanes Bowling Alley. Nervous about their competition—Braintree Academy’s Bloodsucking Fake-Moustache Defenders and their star player, Mighty Fantaskey—the team is taking every possible moment to read: on the bus, during karate class, and even at the dinner table. Stink makes a cape out of scribbled-on sticky notes on the books he’s read, and Judy tries her hand at speed-reading. Enthusiasm for reading is never lost even as the children prepare for the contest. A diverse gathering of familiar titles is referenced throughout, matching this series’ reading level (all titles mentioned are compiled in the backmatter). Building excitement propels the story up through the competition to an ultimately satisfying ending. Reynolds’ well-placed watercolor, tea, and ink illustrations break up text, allowing necessary breaks for bridging readers. Aside from teacher and coach Mr. Todd, who is black, and Mighty Fantaskey, who seems to be a child of color, all characters appear white.

Another win for Judy and her friends. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0484-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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            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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