ANANSI AND THE MAGIC STICK

Anansi the Trickster meets the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in this story loosely based on a Liberian folktale. While the other animals are busy tending their gardens and cleaning their homes, Anansi is sleeping. But when they tease him for being lazy, he says he is hard at work thinking and will have to find a new place to sleep, that is to think, for all the noise they are making. What he finds is Hyena’s house, which is always neat and tidy, no matter how Hyena sleeps away the day. Spying on him, Anansi sees Hyena recite some magic words to a stick, which then does his chores for him. The sly spider decides that this stick could help keep his neighbors from laughing at him for his poor housekeeping. All goes well for a time until he decides to have the stick tend his garden. When he falls asleep, the overzealous stick is watering the garden. Without Anansi to stop it, the stick’s watering goes from a trickle, to a flood, to a river, in which all the animals are swept away. Unable to remember the magic words, Anansi loses the stick to Hyena and must go back to thinking up new tricks. Children will delight in Anansi’s escapades as he annoys his neighbors and learns how to control the stick. Kimmel and Stevens make a good team, with the text fonts echoing the action of the story and the illustrations bringing Anansi and all his antics to life. This is their fourth Anansi collaboration (Anansi and the Talking Melon, 1996, etc.); has the tricky spider learned his lesson this time? Let’s hope not—his stories are too amusing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1443-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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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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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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