PIONEER SUMMER

Hopkinson (Bluebird Summer, 2001, etc.) tells the engaging saga of a pioneer family’s move to Kansas in her first foray into Ready-for-Chapters reading. Charlie and Ida Jane are moving from Massachusetts, where their parents and other abolitionists are trying to tip the balance against slavery in the region. Mr. Keller’s reassuring voice tells his children (and the child reader) about the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act without burdening them with excessive historical details. Charlie, a quiet, thoughtful boy, who loves to collect items from the natural world, is not a stereotype, nor is he a 21st-century transplant. Ida Jane is not a quiet, long-suffering daughter who dutifully cooks and quilts in the background. The children wrestle with their parents’ abolitionist philosophies as they wrangle with their little sister Sadie, who is quite a handful. Hopkinson’s gift is her ability to weave little details into a story: Charlie’s old dog Danny and grandfather are both too old for the trip; a minor character explains riverboat life; Mr. Keller has a brush with cholera; the job of building a house and putting in crops is much more challenging than the children would ever have thought; and the ever-present big sky draws them together and keeps them connected. While most young children have been introduced to the facts of the Civil War, slave life, and the Underground Railroad, many are unaware of the enormous changes that were taking place in the Midwest at the time. This superb story will whet their appetites for future news of the Keller family as they find their place in “Bleeding Kansas.” (author’s note) (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-84349-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more