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HAVE YOU SEEN THIS FISH?

A clever introduction to sleuthing for young readers, with plenty of context in the illustrations to offset some unfamiliar...

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A boy investigates the disappearance of a fish in this debut picture book.

Jamie, a freckle-faced child with a poof of curly brown hair, is dismayed to get home from school and discover that Fritz is missing from his fishbowl. Jamie’s first step in locating the beloved Fritz is putting up lost-pet posters, a move sure to start preschool readers giggling. When a helpful local gumshoe—decked out in a Holmes-ian hat and trench coat and bizarrely walking a sweater-wearing squirrel on a leash—calls Jamie’s problem a mystery, the boy approaches Fritz’s vanishing like a detective. Clues lead to a feline suspect, but other hints send Jamie all the way to a water treatment facility. Although he fails to find Fritz, the fish shows up in the most unexpected place for a happy ending. Ball’s text and Özcan’s (Köse Bucak Safranbolu, 2016, etc.) illustrations work in perfect sync to expand the story in a way neither could accomplish alone. The cartoonish images include plenty of silly and absurd details sure to delight young readers, who may spot a missing bird and frog featured on posters. (Jamie’s race is unclear in the pictures.) Ball’s first-person, tongue-in-cheek narration is accessible despite several challenging words and phrases (“alibied,” “key witness”). And Jamie’s efforts are worthy of the big win at the tale’s conclusion.

A clever introduction to sleuthing for young readers, with plenty of context in the illustrations to offset some unfamiliar vocabulary.

Pub Date: May 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73373-750-0

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Writing Times Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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