INSPECTOR HOPPER

The accent in Cushman's beginning reader is decidedly on the act of reading, as the story itself, broken into three fleeting chapters, has little momentum or interest of its own, let alone the brio or dash any detective story should. Inspector Hopper, all legs and slouch hat, along with his sidekick, the mustachioed, ever-hungry McBugg, solve three benign capers. The first of these is the disappearance of Mrs. Ladybug, who is found in a berry patch where McBugg has stopped for a snack; the second is the disappearance of Skeet the mailman's boat, a leaf that has been inadvertently eaten by a caterpillar. Last is the uncovering of the stalker in the alley, who turns out to be the Moon and not a bad detective in his own right when it comes to uncovering the dastardly rat. The sentences are clipped as tight as a buzz cut, which makes for easy reading, but if the stories had been just a bit more challenging they would also have been a bit more satisfying. With each sentence being a paragraph unto itself, it is difficult to get any sense of the text's timing, or the inflection of the words. What does charm in these pages is the artwork, with its warm colors, landscapes as seen from insect level, and its atmosphere of adventure, even if it materializes only in the slightest of measures. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028382-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

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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