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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2004

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Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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