SHOOTING STAR

ANNIE OAKLEY, THE LEGEND

A picture-book version of Annie Oakley's life that wavers between a fairly straight telling of the few known facts and tall-tale exaggerations that are both forced and silly. As a baby, Annie is described as spitting bullets out of her cradle at the tin roof of the barn, frightening the cows so bad that Pa has to move the structure 15 miles down the road. A few years later, Annie hunts for food for the family, and pays off the farm debt after her father dies. Covered are her marriage to Frank Butler, her trip to Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, her meeting Queen Victoria, her outshooting Grand Duke Michael of Russia, and her legendary generosity. Mixed into those events are the tall-tale yarns, when she shot craters in the moon and blasted the points off a distant star. It's a hybrid approach, leaving readers without a real sense of what a genuine star Annie was. In his first book, Goto's glossy paintings, technically proficient, follow the bent of the story and also straddle realism and cartoon buffoonery, with limited success. He makes a burlesque of the facial expressions of Annie's audience, whose uniform astonishment begins to look static. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8027-8484-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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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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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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