FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER

Elaine Konigsburg's first sharp bite of suburban life, Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth, was a dilly; this one's a dandy—just as fast and fresh and funny, but less spoofing, more penetrating. From the files of Mrs. Frankweiler comes the chronicle of Claudia Kincaid, almost twelve, and her brother Jamie, who is nine. Tired of being her same old taken-for-granted self, Claudia decides to run away, and Jamie goes along because he is flattered at being asked. Claudia has planned every detail: escape on the empty school bus, change of clothing in a violin case, sanctuary in the Metropolitan Museum. For a week the children elude the guards and exploit the opportunities of the museum: they sleep in a royal bed, bathe in the cafeteria pool, and pass part of each day in study on the fringe of lecture tours. Midweek, a marble angel of dubious origin arrives; Claudia is convinced that it is a Michelangelo and determines to prove it: she will authenticate Angel and become a heroine before going home. But no—by arrangement of Mrs. Frankweiler, she goes home a heroine only to herself (and happy); and she knows something about secrets she hadn't known before—they have to come to an end... Like the title, Mrs. Frankweiler is a bit of a nuisance; and an offhand, rather bemused reference to dope addiction is unnecessary but not inappropriate. What matters is that beyond the intriguing central situation and its ingenious, very natural development, there's a deepening rapport between their parents; "we're well trained (and sure of ourselves)...just look how nicely we've managed. It's really they're fault if we're not homesick." There may be a run on the Metropolitan (a map is provided); there will surely be a run on the book.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2007

ISBN: 1416949755

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1967

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Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it.

YOUR BABY'S FIRST WORD WILL BE DADA

A succession of animal dads do their best to teach their young to say “Dada” in this picture-book vehicle for Fallon.

A grumpy bull says, “DADA!”; his calf moos back. A sad-looking ram insists, “DADA!”; his lamb baas back. A duck, a bee, a dog, a rabbit, a cat, a mouse, a donkey, a pig, a frog, a rooster, and a horse all fail similarly, spread by spread. A final two-spread sequence finds all of the animals arrayed across the pages, dads on the verso and children on the recto. All the text prior to this point has been either iterations of “Dada” or animal sounds in dialogue bubbles; here, narrative text states, “Now everybody get in line, let’s say it together one more time….” Upon the turn of the page, the animal dads gaze round-eyed as their young across the gutter all cry, “DADA!” (except the duckling, who says, “quack”). Ordóñez's illustrations have a bland, digital look, compositions hardly varying with the characters, although the pastel-colored backgrounds change. The punch line fails from a design standpoint, as the sudden, single-bubble chorus of “DADA” appears to be emanating from background features rather than the baby animals’ mouths (only some of which, on close inspection, appear to be open). It also fails to be funny.

Plotless and pointless, the book clearly exists only because its celebrity author wrote it. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-00934-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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Wonderful, indeed

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THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU WILL BE

A GROWING-UP POEM

A love song to baby with delightful illustrations to boot.

Sweet but not saccharine and singsong but not forced, Martin’s text is one that will invite rereadings as it affirms parental wishes for children while admirably keeping child readers at its heart. The lines that read “This is the first time / There’s ever been you, / So I wonder what wonderful things / You will do” capture the essence of the picture book and are accompanied by a diverse group of babies and toddlers clad in downright adorable outfits. Other spreads include older kids, too, and pictures expand on the open text to visually interpret the myriad possibilities and hopes for the depicted children. For example, a spread reading “Will you learn how to fly / To find the best view?” shows a bespectacled, school-aged girl on a swing soaring through an empty white background. This is just one spread in which Martin’s fearless embrace of the white of the page serves her well. Throughout the book, she maintains a keen balance of layout choices, and surprising details—zebras on the wallpaper behind a father cradling his child, a rock-’n’-roll band of mice paralleling the children’s own band called “The Missing Teeth”—add visual interest and gentle humor. An ideal title for the baby-shower gift bag and for any nursery bookshelf or lap-sit storytime.

Wonderful, indeed . (Picture book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-37671-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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