A fictional companion to the publisher’s E Is for Eiffel Tower: A France Alphabet (2010), this entry in the Tales of the...

THE BOY WHO WANTED TO COOK

A riveting tale of French life? Au contraire.

A fictional companion to the publisher’s E Is for Eiffel Tower: A France Alphabet (2010), this entry in the Tales of the World series weaves French phrases into a blasé story about 10-year-old Pierre, whose father is owner and chef of a quaint restaurant near the Tarn River in the south of France. Although he sees the world as “one big beautiful meal,” his father (depicted as the quintessential portly chef with bulging, expressive eyes, a thin handlebar moustache and a white toque) thinks Pierre is too young to cook. After a restaurant critic asks the boy for directions to his family’s restaurant, Pierre decides that honor demands that he refrain from telling them the critic’s identity. Instead, he announces that a stranger from a long distance will be dining with them and scurries to pick local delicacies, including the first morilles (wild mushrooms) of the season. When his father refuses to use them in his signature beef dish, Pierre secretly adds them and not only wins the restaurant a star but his father’s pride for his cooking skills and honor. While Adams’ acrylic paintings on board lend a charming, folksy feel, the narration focuses more on French phrases rather than the culture. Only Francophiles will overlook the didactic messages at the conclusion.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-534-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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Produced to celebrate the National Park Service’s upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to “get...

OUR GREAT BIG BACKYARD

A family road trip through several national parks transforms young Jane’s feelings about missing out on a summer of online fun with her friends.

“There’s absolutely nothing to see here,” Jane emails fretfully as her family drives through the scenic Smoky Mountains and canoes past alligators and manatees in the Everglades. But once her dad gets her to put the tablet away and look through a telescope at the night skies over Big Bend National Park, her attitude transforms: “OH WOW!” Soon she’s tiptoeing over the Grand Canyon’s Skywalk like an acrobat, playing pirate on a raft down the Colorado River, scouting out “Mountain lions, buffalo, and bears. Oh my!” in Yellowstone—and, discovering that she’s misplaced her electronic device, sending written postcards to her friends from Yosemite. Furthermore, once back home, what better way to debrief than a backyard cookout under the stars? Giving blonde Jane and the rest of her white family broad, pleasant features, Rogers sends them smiling and singing their way through a succession of natural wonders, with bears and bald eagles, footnotes (adult supervision required on the Skywalk, for instance), and only a few fellow, occasionally diverse tourists in the background. Endpaper maps track the long itinerary, and a (select) list of other national parks and sites in each state offers more destinations.

Produced to celebrate the National Park Service’s upcoming centenary, a breezy invitation to prospective travelers to “get out there!” (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-246835-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

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