WILLOW

In dictatorial Miss Hawthorn’s cheerless art room, students sit “in their rows, silent and still, like eggs in a carton” producing cookie-cutter busywork. “Everyone except Willow.” Miss Hawthorn does not appreciate Willow’s sweet nature or her inventive, colorful outlook on life. Willow is always in trouble with her wizened teacher, especially “for not painting things the way Miss Hawthorn wanted her to.” When she tries to share her artistic excitement via a well-loved art book full of flamingo-pink trees, blue apples and other works of wonder, Miss Hawthorn rebuffs her. “Horrid little girl.” But stony Miss Hawthorn is transformed by a holiday gift—the only one she receives—of that treasured art book, and when her students return after the holidays, they find a very different teacher, indeed. Motivational speaker Brennan-Nelson’s message hits its mark, and Moore’s energetic watercolors fairly vibrate—Willow would approve! Pair this with Peter Reynolds’s The Dot (2003) and Paul Zelinsky’s Doodler Doodling (2004) for an outside-the-lines art experience. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58536-342-1

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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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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GOONEY BIRD GREENE

Gooney Bird Greene (with a silent E) is not your average second grader. She arrives in Mrs. Pidgeon’s class announcing: “I’m your new student and I just moved here from China. I want a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything.” Everything about her is unusual and mysterious—her clothes, hairstyles, even her lunches. Since the second graders have never met anyone like Gooney Bird, they want to hear more about her. Mrs. Pidgeon has been talking to the class about what makes a good story, so it stands to reason that Gooney will get her chance. She tells a series of stories that explain her name, how she came from China on a flying carpet, how she got diamond earrings at the prince’s palace, and why she was late for school (because she was directing a symphony orchestra). And her stories are “absolutely true.” Actually, they are explainable and mesh precisely with the teacher’s lesson, more important, they are a clever device that exemplify the elements of good storytelling and writing and also demonstrate how everyone can turn everyday events into stories. Savvy teachers should take note and add this to their shelf of “how a story is made” titles. Gooney Bird’s stories are printed in larger type than the narrative and the black-and-white drawings add the right touch of sauciness (only the cover is in color). A hybrid of Harriet, Blossom, and Anastasia, irrepressible Gooney Bird is that rare bird in children’s fiction: one that instantly becomes an amusing and popular favorite. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-23848-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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