HENRY’S AMAZING MACHINE

Henry is a born inventor—literally. By the age of six, he had built an elaborate machine that filled his room and spilled into the bathroom. As years of obsessive building go by, the family is completely displaced by the enormity of Henry’s inventions. The boy’s proud parents do eventually question the method in their son’s madness: “Now, Henry. You have ‘Whipping things, whapping things, / Clapping, snapping, slapping things, / Tracking things, hacking things, / Smacking, cracking, whacking things! . . . BUT, HENRY, WHAT DOES IT DO?’ ” In the end, Henry’s invention does indeed find a purpose: a carnival is born as the phenomenal machine attracts curious onlookers and enterprising food vendors, dancers, and musicians of all shapes and sizes. The story drags on a bit, but Brooker’s comical, wonderfully multi-textured collage illustrations steal the show. Readers will be mesmerized by the madcap mélange of ramps, clocks, dice, propellers, and metal dragonflies (often photographed and pasted into the collage) that make up Henry’s amazing machine. If there’s a point, it’s probably that not everything has to have one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-32953-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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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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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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