Noodlehead stories are perennially entertaining, but better collections exist.

THE GOTHAMITES

Wise men become fools to escape excessive demands in this Estonian import.

The male Gothamites of Turkeyland, renowned for their wisdom, travel extensively, advising foreign heads of state—while their homeland, run by the womenfolk, falls into chaos. The desperate women plead for them to return, and upon doing so, the men decide that they must behave stupidly so their services will no longer be desired outside of Turkeyland. Ten short stories follow in the best noodlehead folklore tradition: A group of fools with tangled legs cannot get up because they don’t know which feet are theirs; another one attempts to catch light in a sack. The richly colored, Brueghel-like illustrations feature intricate, comical scenes of the Gothamites in all their splendid incompetence (and cheekily tuck in a hammer and sickle). In keeping with the sexism of the text, the big-bosomed and -bottomed women are clad in slip dresses even in the dead of winter; the men are modestly attired. Turkeyland seems to be Northern European, and all characters appear white apart from one black boy wearing a sweatsuit. The lengthy text and small-scale illustrations make this suitable for independent reading or one-on-one sharing. It may appeal to readers who enjoy the absurd and the slapstick, although many stories feel too long, diluting the impact of the humor—the printing of page numbers upside down underscores the loopiness.

Noodlehead stories are perennially entertaining, but better collections exist. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-939810-28-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Elsewhere Editions

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent.

HORTON AND THE KWUGGERBUG AND MORE LOST STORIES

Published in magazines, never seen since / Now resurrected for pleasure intense / Versified episodes numbering four / Featuring Marco, and Horton and more!

All of the entries in this follow-up to The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011) involve a certain amount of sharp dealing. Horton carries a Kwuggerbug through crocodile-infested waters and up a steep mountain because “a deal is a deal”—and then is cheated out of his promised share of delicious Beezlenuts. Officer Pat heads off escalating, imagined disasters on Mulberry Street by clubbing a pesky gnat. Marco (originally met on that same Mulberry Street) concocts a baroque excuse for being late to school. In the closer, a smooth-talking Grinch (not the green sort) sells a gullible Hoobub a piece of string. In a lively introduction, uber-fan Charles D. Cohen (The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, 2002) provides publishing histories, places characters and settings in Seussian context, and offers insights into, for instance, the origin of “Grinch.” Along with predictably engaging wordplay—“He climbed. He grew dizzy. His ankles grew numb. / But he climbed and he climbed and he clum and he clum”—each tale features bright, crisply reproduced renditions of its original illustrations. Except for “The Hoobub and the Grinch,” which has been jammed into a single spread, the verses and pictures are laid out in spacious, visually appealing ways.

Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-38298-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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