HUMPTY DUMPTY

A downright weird fable revisits (sort of) the lessons of The Selfish Giant, with a 21st-century twist. King Humpty inhabits an idyllic, sun-filled paradise, separated from the peasants by a high fence that lets only a dim light shine over. One evening, as King Humpty reads on his lake, the sun reflects off the enormous diamonds carried by his captive swans, attracting the attention of the peasants. When they peek over the fence, King Humpty sees them and, “[e]nraged by this breach of his security, he dismisse[s] all his guards and servants.” On his own, he essays a higher stone wall, but “King Humpty’s selfish life had not prepared him for such a task, and he had a great fall.” Any possible lesson—is the elementary audience meant to see parallels with Israel’s security fence? The USA Patriot Act?—falls just as flat as Humpty himself, the lumpishly surreal illustrations as intellectually removed from anything like character and emotion as the text they accompany. Kids who know Humpty from the rhyme (which ends the tale) will find nothing to recognize in this. Splat. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: April 10, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-56987-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2006

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Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments.

SUPERHEROES ARE EVERYWHERE

The junior senator from California introduces family and friends as everyday superheroes.

The endpapers are covered with cascades of, mostly, early childhood snapshots (“This is me contemplating the future”—caregivers of toddlers will recognize that abstracted look). In between, Harris introduces heroes in her life who have shaped her character: her mom and dad, whose superpowers were, respectively, to make her feel special and brave; an older neighbor known for her kindness; grandparents in India and Jamaica who “[stood] up for what’s right” (albeit in unspecified ways); other relatives and a teacher who opened her awareness to a wider world; and finally iconic figures such as Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley who “protected people by using the power of words and ideas” and whose examples inspired her to become a lawyer. “Heroes are…YOU!” she concludes, closing with a bulleted Hero Code and a timeline of her legal and political career that ends with her 2017 swearing-in as senator. In group scenes, some of the figures in the bright, simplistic digital illustrations have Asian features, some are in wheelchairs, nearly all are people of color. Almost all are smiling or grinning. Roe provides everyone identified as a role model with a cape and poses the author, who is seen at different ages wearing an identifying heart pin or decoration, next to each.

Self-serving to be sure but also chock-full of worthy values and sentiments. (Picture book/memoir. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-49-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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ROOM ON THE BROOM

Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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