Good grief! (Picture book. 4-8)

READ REVIEW

I DECLARE, CHARLIE BROWN!

From the Peanuts Great American Adventure series

The Peanuts gang explains the origins of the American Revolution—kinda.

This is such an egregious appropriation of a global institution that it is hard to know where to begin. How about the cover? “I Declare, Charlie Brown! Charles M. Schulz.” That’s it. As Schulz died in 2000, readers can safely assume this is not his story and these are not his drawings, and the record is corrected on the title page. Briefly, the Peanuts gang builds a treehouse, which Lucy quickly occupies and demands a tax to enter. Forget that this is not a tax but an admission fee—this allows Reeves and Barnes to introduce taxation without representation and the impetus for the American Revolution (which gets stone-skipping detail in the backmatter). The text is painfully wooden: “They settled some of the very first colonies in America. By the mid-1770s, thirteen colonies were thriving.” Unlike George III (and, for that matter, Schulz’s Lucy), Reeves and Barnes’ Lucy sees the light and joins the gang for a tea party. Brannon’s digital artwork has a wobbly, mouse-drawn look, giving the characters a sickly look. To add insult to injury, the text doesn’t always match the illustrations. “ ‘Lucy is coming! Lucy is coming!’ Pigpen sounded the alarm.” As it happens, Pigpen is nowhere to be found.

Good grief! (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62157-334-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Patriot Press

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future.

BALONEY AND FRIENDS

From the Baloney & Friends series , Vol. 1

A new chapter-book series promises tons of fun for everyone.

Baloney the pig couldn’t be happier about starring in his very own book—until pals Peanut D. Horse, Bizz E. Bee, and Krabbit (a crabby rabbit) crash the introduction, leaving him frustrated. Baloney perseveres and goes on to star in several, short comic book–style stories that often break the fourth wall and that always rely on the very different personalities of the characters to deliver humor. Peanut is a Pollyanna and just a bit daffy. Bizz is a sensible, thoughtful bee-ing. Krabbit is so crabby he’d give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money. Baloney? Well, Baloney is a sensitive sort who, in two longer episodes, wants to entertain his friends with a magic show and join in their fun at swimming. Shorter “mini-comics” between these sections provide good breaks for new readers who are, perhaps, just starting to make their ways through a longer text like this. Pizolli saves the strongest story for last, delivering a sweet and satisfying portrait of Peanut’s kindness to her friend Baloney when he feels blue. And readers needn’t feel blue themselves that the story is over since they can follow handy backmatter instructions to draw their own versions of the simple, line-drawn characters.

Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future. (Graphic fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05454-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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A beautiful portrayal of a historic and arduous family journey northward

OVERGROUND RAILROAD

One family’s experience of the Great Migration.

Cline-Ransome and Ransome, a husband-and-wife author-and-illustrator team, have again collaborated on an important story from African American history. Narrator Ruth Ellen, Mama, and Daddy awaken early to travel to New York without the permission or knowledge of the landowner on whose land they sharecrop. (The author’s note mentions that landowners often used threats and violence to keep sharecroppers on the land and perpetually in debt.) The family boards the train with luggage, tickets, and food in a shoebox—since black folks cannot eat in the dining car and must sit in the colored section of the train. The conductor calls out the cities as they progress North. When the conductor removes the “whites only” sign near Baltimore, African Americans can sit wherever they want—though it takes some time before Ruth Ellen and her family find white riders who smile a welcome. Ruth Ellen reads Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass aloud to Mama on the train ride, a gift from her teacher that parallels her own family’s journey. Ransome’s watercolor-and-collage illustrations effectively capture both the historical setting and the trepidation of a family who though not enslaved, nevertheless must escape as if they were. Cotton bolls throughout the images accentuate cotton’s economic dominance in the sharecropping system.

A beautiful portrayal of a historic and arduous family journey northward . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3873-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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