And will a young scholar read it again and look for more? You bet—it’s great fuel for the imagination.

READ REVIEW

CASTLE

HOW IT WORKS

Hooray for the launch of a new nonfiction series for newly fledged readers!

Macaulay’s compact, clear and engagingly illustrated explanation of how a castle is built to thwart potential intruders (you, the reader, in this case) is the right length and depth for readers who have progressed beyond beginner books. His trademark pen-and-ink lines reveal the structural purpose of each part of the medieval stone fortress, while color wash adds appeal. Clearly among the first of a series, this title is labeled "Level 4," and the sentences are just complex enough: “Beneath the ground floor is the dark, damp dungeon.” The narrative is well supported by the illustration—and vice versa: An intriguing drawing has the essential details mentioned in the accompanying passage. Readers will encounter new challenges with text set against dark backgrounds on a few pages, but the font size and line spacing are just right. The length of the book—32 pages, including glossary—seems thoughtfully calculated to bestow a sense of accomplishment. The basics get covered here in fascinating detail: the guard who stops to use the toilet; a cross section of a battering ram. Added riches: a glossary, an index and a list of resources for further study, in small type but nicely focused.

And will a young scholar read it again and look for more? You bet—it’s great fuel for the imagination. (Nonfiction early reader. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-744-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Macaulay Studio/Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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A twisted take on an old standard that just may have readers rewriting their own favorites.

IT'S NOT HANSEL AND GRETEL

An omniscient narrator battles Hansel and Gretel for control of the story…and loses, to readers’ delight.

At the start, this seems like the standard fairy tale, but it’s not long before the siblings are contradicting the narrator: “What kind of person SAVES bread crumbs?” Gretel asks, and Hansel adds, “It’s a time of great famine. If there are bread crumbs left, we eat them.” These cheeky retorts only grow more numerous as the tale continues. Gretel also flexes her feminist muscles, demanding the title be “Gretel and Hansel” and that she not do chores while Hansel gets fattened up on a candy diet (or swells from a sensitivity to strawberries, as it turns out: “Food allergies are NOT a joke”). Eventually, the narrator gives up trying to fix the tale and gives the two full control, and things quickly get out of hand: Both end up sporting mustaches, there’s a unicorn named Fluffybottom, and the kids are reunited with their completely innocent parents. Taylor’s digital illustrations take the loony text several steps farther, and readers will enjoy the cameos from characters from other familiar tales. Hansel, Gretel, and their parents present white, and the witch is literally white, with a long, pink nose.

A twisted take on an old standard that just may have readers rewriting their own favorites. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0294-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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