PRETTY POLLY

A parrot is too expensive, so Abby decides to teach one of the farmyard hens to talk. Patience is rewarded: "Pretty Polly" first speaks at four months and soon has a large vocabulary whose use, like a parrot's, may happen to be relevant but is basically random. Still, Abby loves Polly and is fully engaged in her life's natural dramas. When a fox attacks, Polly is the sole survivor among her siblings; Dad, who persists in seeing her money-making potential (though he has agreed that Polly belongs to Abby), provides a cockerel and a new generation is hatched, but none with Polly's gift. The rumor of a talking hen gets out; there are encounters with a journalist and an elderly duke, who imagines that Abby is an extraordinary ventriloquist. The family's proper respect for his grace, tempered with sensible egalitarianism, provides some humor, as does Abby's little brother Bob, whose reasonable misuse of language contrasts delightfully with Polly's parroting. All in all, a typical King-Smith treat, with a well-realized British farm setting, amusing dialogue, and an appealing premise developed with logic and good humor. Illustrations not seen; unfortunately, the jacket art is rather wooden in style and differs in detail from the text. (Fiction. 5-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-517-58606-1

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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