FOUR STUPID CUPIDS

Having faced ghosts, aliens, and deadly Siberian snow spiders in previous adventures, the fifth graders at Josiah Fawcett Elementary take on a very different sort of challenge when a Grecian urn from Fawn Petros’s aunt shatters, releasing four bright-eyed cupids from a 2,300-year nap. Naturally, the students immediately hatch a plot to hook up their television-despising teacher Miss Earth, still grieving over her lost love, Rocco Tortoni, with someone, anyone—how about TV newscaster Chad Hunkley? Unfortunately, the obliging cupids are a bit rusty with bow and arrow. Maguire gives shy, underachieving Fawn several chances to shine as he piles sidesplitting complications atop the customary stresses of Valentine’s Day (“What if nobody sends me a card? What if somebody does send me a card? . . . A certain variety of panic clutched many sets of guts”). By the end, seeming none the worse for having fallen madly in love with the school janitor, then a balloon in the shape of cartoon personality Cap’n Trueheart, the class frog, and finally television, Miss Earth sports a small ring, perhaps from previously diffident suitor Timothy Hay, the town’s young mayor. With profound relief, the students mail the cupids back to Greece. “Midsummer Night’s Dream” this is not, but rarely have the arrows of love gone more hilariously astray. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2000

ISBN: 0-395-83895-9

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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GINGERBREAD BABY

In a snowbound Swiss village, Matti figures it’s a good day to make a gingerbread man. He and his mother mix a batch of gingerbread and tuck it in the oven, but Matti is too impatient to wait ten minutes without peeking. When he opens the door, out pops a gingerbread baby, taunting the familiar refrain, “Catch me if you can.” The brash imp races all over the village, teasing animals and tweaking the noses of the citizenry, until there is a fair crowd on his heels intent on giving him a drubbing. Always he remains just out of reach as he races over the winterscape, beautifully rendered with elegant countryside and architectural details by Brett. All the while, Matti is busy back home, building a gingerbread house to entice the nervy cookie to safe harbor. It works, too, and Matti is able to spirit the gingerbread baby away from the mob. The mischief-maker may be a brat, but the gingerbread cookie is also the agent of good cheer, and Brett allows that spirit to run free on these pages. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-23444-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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AN ELF FOR CHRISTMAS

The text in Garland’s book has little merit, and appears mostly as an excuse for the digital artwork. The night before Christmas, Tingle, a diligent elf in Santa’s workshop, falls asleep in the cockpit of a toy plane he has been working on. When the plane is wrapped, so is he, and the package is tucked into Santa’s sleigh and delivered to Joey for Christmas. Tingle gets homesick, flies the plane homeward, runs out of power, and hitches a ride with a polar bear. Garland makes no effort to endow his principals with any personality or presence; the artwork suffers from a grating juxtaposition of hyperrealism and smoky, blurred imagery. The proportions and depths of field are discomfittingly exaggerated, except for a scene in which the northern lights are on display above Santa’s workshop—there the otherworldliness perfectly matches the event. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-525-46212-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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