Fee fi fo fum / A merry old tale that’s No. 1! (Picture book. 4-7)

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THE GIANT OF JUM

An oversized gourmand with a penchant for little children has a change of heart (and stomach).

Who could blame the Giant of Jum for eyeing his daily fare of broccoli with more than a modicum of distaste? Inspired by “Jack and the Beanstalk” (and conveniently forgetting the ending), the giant sets out to fill his tum with tots. Yet each time he encounters potential prey, they end up getting him to help them fetch their ball, save their cat from a tree, and so on. When he finally meets a boy named Jack, his proclamation that he intends to devour the lad is met with skepticism on the part of the other kids. They hand over a massive cake they’ve special ordered for him in thanks, and the giant comes away with the undeniable realization that “Chocolate’s much better than children!” The cadence of the lines dances on the pages, perfectly playing off the old “Fee Fi Fo Fum” rhymes with eloquence and aplomb. Fully embracing the spirit of the enterprise, Davies has a great deal of fun with the images, filling their corners with animals hiding not-so-cleverly from the perpetually hungry ogre. The giant himself never crosses over into the truly scary; he is depicted as a gargantuan white man with a house for a hat. The children are a multiracial crew.

Fee fi fo fum / A merry old tale that’s No. 1! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-515-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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