Cute concept; uneven execution.

CATCH THAT COOKIE!

Some peripatetic gingerbread men make a believer of a skeptical grade schooler.

Mrs. Gray’s class has been listening to variations on “The Gingerbread Man” all week in preparation for a cooking activity. Marshall knows it’s all hooey—cookies can’t run. The kids mix, cut and decorate before Mrs. Gray “locks” the gingerbread men in the oven…but when the oven is opened, the cookies have vanished. A series of rhymed clues takes the kids around the school in pursuit. Though initially Marshall suspects that Mrs. Gray has cooked up a literacy exercise to get between the kids and their cookies, a stray raisin makes him wonder—and then he notices hundreds of gingerbread footprints on the floor of the gym. Those “G-men” must be napping in the doll corner after all that running! Durand has created an attractive protagonist in Marshall; his skepticism is exactly age-appropriate, as is his pride in the way he “rocks” the dough. Small’s loose, line-and-watercolor cartoons feature a freckled, redheaded Caucasian boy with expressive eyebrows. (Mrs. Gray is also white, but her classroom is multiethnic.) There’s something a little half-baked about the story, though; although the buildup to the discovery of the cookies is effective, the denouement sags: Just what is going to happen to all these apparently sentient cookies? A closing vignette showing Marshall about to bite his cookie’s head off is downright disquieting.

Cute concept; uneven execution. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-525-42835-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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