This hushed book about life and death, arrivals and departures, and hellos and good-byes, is so reflective and subdued it feels as if it should be read aloud in a whisper. Sugar Plum, an African-American preschooler, has a hard time when her mom, who works, drops her off at Mis' Lela's, but Mis' Lela is an old soul and knows how to console a youngster. Soon Sugar Plum is enjoying herself, sharing with Mis' Lela the small incidents of her day. She is droll at the arrival of Mr. Tinker Man: ``He's gonna mend one hole and punch two, making more leaks in my tin tubs,'' and understated about a visit from Mis' Bible Lady``My, that woman can talk.'' Then, when Mis' Lela dies, Sugar Plum must contend with griefemotions that are limned in childlike and immediate terms. Stevenson's soft-edged illustrations heighten the dreamy quality of the text, so much so that it seems only natural that Sugar Plum, old enough to head to school, says a quiet hello when she walks past Mis' Lela's old house, and that a familiar ``Study your lessons, Sugar Plum, and mind your manners'' seems to come floating sweetly back from the ether. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-31013-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1998

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...


Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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

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