ON MARDI GRAS DAY

It is dawn on a day of street parties, and children are donning minimalist costumes (an underwater mask for a deep-sea diver, a cowboy hat to evoke a cowboy) so that “even those who love us must guess our identities.” Of course the children aren’t truly disguised: “I know you, Mardi Gras,” one friend calls from the sidewalk. By the fifth spread, readers understand that this is more than a children’s party; “Mardi Gras Indians live in our neighborhood,” and each emerges from “the door blinds of his small house like a spring flower opening.” Five of the double-page oil paintings are given over to actual parade scenes; the rest of the book features more domestic scenes of children in their homes and backyards during the long Mardi Gras day. The story is poetic, but puzzling to children new to the subject: Where is the story taking place? What are “Mardi Gras Indians,” and how to makes sense of the statement “A parade named Zulu will pass”? In read-aloud sessions, cover the author’s note in the back first, for a more succinct introduction to some of the customs of the New Orleans parade. Shaik’s narrative is deliberately child-centered, offering an insider’s view of the day but not quite succeeding in beckoning newcomers to it. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-1442-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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HALLOWEEN MOTEL

Creature feature fans are sure to find their favorite nightmares attending this Halloween soiree. Ready to party at the Halloween Motel, a family checks in, dons costumes (Dad’s Elvis—the horror, the horror), and breezily heads off down the halls to meet the other guests—all of whom wear amazingly realistic ghost, ghoul, mummy, vampire, zombie, witch, and other outfits. The rhymed text trots merrily along, with occasional choruses, and frequent changes in typeface and size, for variety. Rocco’s postmodern cartoon scenes, done in garish greens and purples, are chock-full of googlies, more caricatured than scary. When the irritated guests complain about “weirdos” coming to their doors, patchy green desk clerk Frankie Stein lurches up to inform the trick-or-treaters that they’re at the wrong venue; the Halloween Motel is down the road a piece. More giggles and squiggles from the author and illustrator of Snow Inside the House (1998), this is guaranteed to be a big storytime hit. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028815-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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WHERE DOES JOE GO?

A sprightly set of illustrations from the always inventive Pearson (The Purple Hat, 1997, etc.) offer hints on one of the biggest mysteries of the ages—Saint Nick’s summer job. Joe comes to town each spring to open up Joe’s Snack Bar, selling hot dogs, ice cream, and fries to an enthusiastic and varied summertime public. Every fall, he disappears, and folks wonder where he goes. Breaking into rhyme, the townspeople offer various scenarios: “ ‘He’s gone to the moon!’/cried tiny June,” or having tea with the queen, “whispered Molly McLeen” or off to the pyramids, “yelled all the Biddy kids.” Each spread is full of friendly colors and the wiggly details of people, places, and cats. Joe and his trademark food items appear in each, too, with nibbles tossed to the alligators in Okefenokee or the dolphins from a cruise ship. Joe returns, of course, the following spring, red-checked, round-bellied, and with a full white beard. Just in case readers still don’t know how he spends the winters, the last, wordless page offers a can’t-miss clue, and the reindeer like ice cream, too. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-38319-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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