OPHELIA

Entirely winning illustrations and a folktale-like plot are brought low by a lackluster, if unobjectionable, ending. One morning Ophelia the hippo is awakened by Kevin’s voice coming “from afar,” complaining of butterflies in his stomach. Off the pudgy ’potamus goes, medical bag in hand, to see to Kevin’s stomachache, telling Meerkat as she goes. Meerkat recommends a hot-water bottle for his cramps and sets off too, alerting Frog before he leaves. Predictably, this forest game of “Telephone” imagines greater and greater troubles for poor Kevin with each animal in the chain, until, “Kevin is dead,” screeches Toucan. Delicate, full-bleed watercolors depict the characters with a gentle humor: The yellow-spotted, blue-footed Frog, for instance, carries a red teapot; Meerkat sports a red scarf and totes his penguin hot-water bottle under his arm. With each iteration of Kevin’s increasingly severe condition, the animals’ imaginations are projected into the scene, Kevin’s silhouette appearing in ever more dire circumstances. But the ending explanation—“He was just a little nervous about being in love”—is nothing if not a letdown and will likely leave readers feeling cheated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-659-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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