BRIGHT STAR

Alicia, growing up in the 19th century on an Australian dairy farm, rankles at the restrictions placed on girls. Her brothers are like swallows, she thinks, free to come and go as they please— while she is like one of the cows plodding through a life of chores, cooking, and needlework. Alicia gazes out at the heavens at night and dreams of the mysteries of space. Much happier are her days at school, where she's particularly good at math and science. When John Tebbut, an amateur astronomer who discovered the ``Great Comet'' of 1861, comes to speak, he recognizes Alicia's intelligence and invites her to visit his observatory. Alicia's father is characteristically silent about his daughter's gifts and the invitation, but when the men and boys are asleep, Alicia's mother takes her to look through the ``Star Man's'' telescope. Alicia takes a look at the heavens, and suddenly feels her horizons expand. This lovely book, based on an actual historical figure, doesn't feel like a lesson, though it contains all the elements of one. Instead, Crew (Angel's Gate, 1995, etc.) focuses on a child's dreams and the moment when she realizes that her fate is in her hands. Spudvilas's glowing oil paintings capture Alicia's expressions, conveying, with the text, a message of affirmation. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-916291-75-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1997

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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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KEENA FORD AND THE SECOND-GRADE MIX-UP

Diarist Keena Ford is ambivalent about second grade: Girls and boys are placed in separate classes, so she will not be with her best friend, Eric. But she resolves to do her best and when Ms. Coleman turns up on the first day of school in a “COOL BELT WITH SPARKLES,” she decides things are looking up. When she mixes up her dates and leads her teacher to believe that the next day is her birthday, greed for chocolate cake overcomes honesty, plunging her into ever-deeper hot water. Morrison’s amiable illustrations clearly depict Keena as a lively African-American girl, but there is little in the text to lend her any ethnic or cultural specificity. The result is that she seems to be just another sassy, impulsive chapter-book heroine à la Clementine or Moxy Maxwell. Still, her escapades and the way she handles them ring with an emotional honesty readers will recognize: If she continues to develop, she has the potential to become a genuine character in her own right. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3263-6

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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