Another playful imagination-stretcher from the author of Look! and Tickle Monster (both 2015). (Picture book. 6-8)

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ONCE UPON A RAINY DAY

A ravening wolf, several potential victims, a wild chase, an ambush, and a spectacular reversal of fortune make for an exciting tale—even when all the characters stay home due to bad weather.

At once metafictive and interactive, the plotline is presented as a recurring story that runs its preordained course whenever its “keeper,” Mr. Warbler, steps out of his cottage to set the Big Bad Wolf to chasing a “delectable” pig, a clever hare, and a flying squirrel with a hot air balloon into the house of a former circus bear. This last blasts the predator out through a giant trumpet and so sends him away limping and muttering. That’s how the story goes on sunny days, at least. But today it happens to be raining—so though the narrative provides a blow-by-blow account of narrow escapes and lickety-split action, none of the cast, from keeper on, ever actually appears in Manceau’s deserted scenes of blocky, buttoned-up houses and geometrically tidy woodlands. No matter: with or without drawing materials, young readers will have little trouble conjuring up suitably colorful figures and dramatic tableaux of their own to superimpose on the backdrops. When, finally, the sun comes out, the narrator’s closing assurance that the story can now “start for real…” ends the exercise on a droll note.

Another playful imagination-stretcher from the author of Look! and Tickle Monster (both 2015). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77147-151-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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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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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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