ANNIE AND BO AND THE BIG SURPRISE

Partridge’s (Oranges on Golden Mountain, p. 56, etc.) story is sweet and gentle and, if it is not highly (or even remotely) original, it will give beginning readers some fast-clipping exercise. The tale, crowned by Weston’s (Owen Foote, Super Spy, p. 1424, etc.) affectionate illustrations, revolves around the efforts of a mouse, Bo, to surprise his friend Annie with a present of his own making. Moved by the beauty of the moon glowing in the winter night’s sky, Bo decides to bake a “full moon cake” for Annie. The cake is just ready to come out of the oven when Annie appears at Bo’s door wanting to go skating. When he can’t stall her any longer, “Bo ran out and slammed the door behind him. He smiled at Annie. It was a great big smile. It was a fake smile. Bo couldn’t fool his best friend. ‘Bo,’ said Annie. ‘What are you hiding?’ ” He admits it’s a surprise, but keeps the secret close. After he rushes home from the skating pond to get the present, Annie begins to worry why he is taking so long. She runs into him in the woods making his way to her house. Since it’s dark, and he was throwing a scary shadow, and she was relieved to see him, Annie gives him a big hug. Bo dumps the cake. Wisely, Annie gets some forks and they tuck in. It’s fun having friends no matter what the circumstances, and part of that fun could be reading this together, with its voice parts—veritable bursts of prose—for an amiable duet. (Easy reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46728-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2001

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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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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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