This lovely reimagining of an old tale affirms the browning of American’s contemporary young readership

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

A brown-skinned Beauty—what a refreshing change!

Cornrows, braids and beads, Afro puffs and twists. No, it’s not an African-American hair magazine; these are some of the hairstyles that Beauty and her sisters sport in Cummings and Lee’s ethnically rich retelling of an old, typically Caucasian favorite. The Beast’s family crest, an intricate figure on the title page that strongly resembles a West African Adinkra symbol, sets the stage for this picture book’s all-black cast of characters. Though Lee recounts the familiar French version in the text, beginning with the cover image, the illustrations affirm the beauty of this lithe girl of African descent and even of her mean-spirited sisters. Cummings’ illustrations convey so much detail that even the pre-transformation Beast seems beautiful…in his own way. Because of these culturally specific visual dynamics, the handsome visage of Beast-turned-prince comes as no surprise. Readers who attend to detail will delight in the Beast’s fierce animal topiaries and in a plethora of beastly faces found in unlikely places such as the backs of chairs, masks hanging on the walls and the cedar chest in Beauty’s room.

This lovely reimagining of an old tale affirms the browning of American’s contemporary young readership . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-688-14819-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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