BAREFOOT BOOK OF EARTH TALES

Seven different areas of the earth—Australia, Nigeria, the American Southwest, Bali, Kazakhstan, India and Wales—are represented through folktales celebrating the natural world and the interdependence of living things. An introduction to each tale describes the cultures and beliefs of the peoples, and an ecological activity follows each story. “The Magic Garden” (Kazakhstan), for instance, tells the story of two friends who discover gold together; a wise man recommends that they use the gold to send a young student to “plant the garden of [his] dreams on the steppes.” The young man impulsively uses the gold to free birds meant for the Khan’s table, and the birds repay him by planting a magic garden. Instructions for making a pinecone birdfeeder follow the tale. Wilson’s folk-art designs in cool, earthy colors decorate the pages, and lively borders are particular to each story. A welcome addition to storytelling collections as well as a good choice for children to enjoy by themselves. Sources for the tales are well documented in an annotated bibliography. (introduction) (Folktales. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-84686-224-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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