Don’t scratch your head over this purchase: Entertainment and information are all wrapped up in one funny and disinfected...

READ REVIEW

BUGS IN MY HAIR!

Head lice morph into friendly fellows in this comical and necessary title.

When the intrepid narrator’s mother discovers his infestation, she immediately jumps into action. Factoids about lice and their transmittal and treatment follow quickly. The youngster suffers from a large dose of shame as he wonders how they found him. He willingly cooperates with his ever-vigilant mother as she marches boldly into the fray, which climaxes with a visit to “a professional lice treatment place.” Alas, the lice return, and the treatment must be repeated. Never fear, the boy knows his medieval history and readies for the next joust with suitable head armor. Shannon’s trademark color palette of yellows and oranges, so wonderful in his David books, fills the spreads with explosive energy as his magnificently magnified lice leap off the pages with endearingly expressive faces, personalities and costumes. Playful lettering becomes part of the page design and demands a most expressive reading voice. Few books for young readers come with a warning. Heed the one boldly penned on the back cover: “This book will make you ITCHY!”

Don’t scratch your head over this purchase: Entertainment and information are all wrapped up in one funny and disinfected package. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-14313-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle...

THE MOST MAGNIFICENT THING

Making things is difficult work. Readers will recognize the stages of this young heroine’s experience as she struggles to realize her vision.

First comes anticipation. The artist/engineer is spotted jauntily pulling a wagonload of junkyard treasures. Accompanied by her trusty canine companion, she begins drawing plans and building an assemblage. The narration has a breezy tone: “[S]he makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!” The colorful caricatures and creations contrast with the digital black outlines on a white background that depict an urban neighborhood. Intermittent blue-gray panels break up the white expanses on selected pages showing sequential actions. When the first piece doesn’t turn out as desired, the protagonist tries again, hoping to achieve magnificence. A model of persistence, she tries many adjustments; the vocabulary alone offers constructive behaviors: she “tinkers,” “wrenches,” “fiddles,” “examines,” “stares” and “tweaks.” Such hard work, however, combines with disappointing results, eventually leading to frustration, anger and injury. Explosive emotions are followed by defeat, portrayed with a small font and scaled-down figures. When the dog, whose expressions have humorously mirrored his owner’s through each phase, retrieves his leash, the resulting stroll serves them well. A fresh perspective brings renewed enthusiasm and—spoiler alert—a most magnificent scooter sidecar for a loyal assistant.

Spires’ understanding of the fragility and power of the artistic impulse mixes with expert pacing and subtle characterization for maximum delight. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55453-704-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love.

THE LOVE LETTER

A mysterious love letter brightens the lives of three forest animals.

Appealing mixed-media illustrations made of ink, gouache, brush marker, and colored pencil combine with a timely message that one kind act can start a chain reaction of kindness. When Hedgehog, Bunny, and Squirrel stumble in turn upon a formally composed love letter, each finds their life improved: Squirrel is less anxious, Bunny spreads goodwill through helpfulness, and Hedgehog is unusually cheerful. As the friends converge to try to discover who sent the letter, the real author appears in a (rather) convenient turn: a mouse who wrote an ode to the moon. Though disappointed that the letter was never meant for them, the friends reflect that the letter still made the world a happier place, making it a “wonderful mix-up.” Since there’s a lot of plot to follow, the book will best serve more-observant readers who are able to piece the narrative cleanly, but those older readers may also better appreciate the special little touches, such as the letter’s enticing, old-fashioned typewriter-style look, vignettes that capture small moments, or the subdued color palette that lends an elegant air. Drawn with minimalist, scribbly lines, the creatures achieve an invigorating balance between charming and spontaneous, with smudged lines that hint at layers of fur and simple, dotted facial expressions.

A sweet and far-from-cloying ode to love. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-274157-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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