Rich and lovely to look at, but probably much more evocative as a memory of the animated short rather than a thing in itself.

LA LUNA

A Pixar film with an Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short is transformed into a picture book with decidedly mixed results.

The textures and colors, blues, greens and golds, are simply beautiful, as the three characters, a boy, his hugely mustachioed father and his hugely bearded grandfather take their little boat, La Luna, out. The boy is going to work with the men for the very first time. The great moon rises from the sea, and the boy climbs a ladder to the moon, finding its surface covered in glittering stars. This family’s job is to clean up the moon, but his father says one way and his grandfather another. A huge star crashes into the moon, and while his father and grandfather argue about how to deal with it, the boy taps it. The star breaks into a plethora of tiny stars, and the three sweep them all up, “each in his own way.” The film, which won’t be seen until June, when it precedes Pixar’s Brave, is visible in 30-second clips online and is almost entirely wordless. (The book's text writer gets a tiny credit line, “Words by Kiki Thorpe.”) Its tender story about generations and carrying on the work, alas, does not quite come across with words on paper.

Rich and lovely to look at, but probably much more evocative as a memory of the animated short rather than a thing in itself. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-3766-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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