A well-intentioned, if peculiar, fantasy.

FRUIT OF THE VINE

A troubled boy helps an outcast creature in this picture book.

Justin wonders why his classmates and his brother bully him. In a dream, he finds himself on a beach, where he spots a “pitiful,” odd-looking creature crying. Then Justin steps on a magical snake, who claims that anyone who steps on him will get three wishes. The serpent also explains that the crying creature is a “Werloobee” named Irvino who’s been banished by others of his kind; Irvino wants to gain weight to “look...like the other dudes.” Justin uses his wishes to help him, and Irvino soon grows and becomes popular with other Werloobees. When Irvino steps on the snake, Justin asks him to use one wish to send him back home. Justin awakens on a bus, where he’s bullied by classmates—but they stop when a boy named Irving steps in. The topics that Weisberg and Yoffe (All Across Canada, 2008) address are commendable, and Justin is a sympathetic protagonist. However, most of the book consists of Justin watching Irvino from afar; Irvino doesn’t speak, so the conversation is mediated by the snake. It would have been interesting to see more direct interaction between them, as Irvino is the main catalyst in Justin’s journey. However, the vibrant illustrations complement the text nicely.

A well-intentioned, if peculiar, fantasy.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84991-285-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Waldorf Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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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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