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FRANKLIN'S BIG DREAMS

Just before Franklin goes to sleep each night in this story, an engineer barges in and builds railroad tracks, canals and runways straight through his bedroom. Giant, glowing trains, ships and planes appear, carrying familiar people (his mailman, his dentist, his mom's boss) to an unknown destination. Young readers will watch along with Franklin, dumbstruck, as the rumbling machinery plows through his walls and into the night. Illustrations with powerful perspectives capture the jarring otherworldliness of dreams. Readers face the broad side of a ship towering three stories high; they cower beneath a jet's roaring belly. Dark blues and purples plunge readers into the murkiness of night, where nothing is quite clear, and clouds both frame and obscure portions of each page. While action-packed and full of vivid language, the book's ambiguity leaves readers feeling frustrated and fuzzy. When Franklin recognizes his own tousled head at the back of the rows of midnight express passengers, he suddenly "figure[s] out what's going on." Many readers never will. After so many weird, woozy nights, it is hard to piece together Franklin's mind-blowing revelation. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4231-1919-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2010

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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