Exquisite bookmaking and Pinkney at his finest.

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THE NIGHTINGALE

Pinkney’s (Goin’ Someplace Special, 2001, etc.) gouache and watercolor illustrations have the stained radiance of sunlight through glass; even his figures appear lit from within.

This vividly imagined retelling of Andersen’s Nightingale places the story in Morocco rather than China, which gives Pinkney the opportunity for sumptuous detail and wonderful pattern-on-pattern textiles, abundant landscapes, elaborately carved furniture, and extravagantly jeweled objects. The story is true to its origins: the king hears of the beautiful song of the nightingale and commands her to sing for him; she does, and he is so enchanted he wants to keep her at court. She’s allowed out only when tied to silken strings, but she continues to sing for him. Then a wind-up nightingale, bedizened in gold and silver, diamonds and rubies, is brought to the king. Even though it only sings one song over and over, the king is dazzled, and the live nightingale flies away. When the wind-up nightingale eventually runs down and the king becomes ill, death sits on his chest and cannot be chased away by song. But the real nightingale returns to sing so sweetly that even death is beguiled, and leaves the king alone. The nightingale promises to return regularly to the king, if he will but listen to his heart, and he is cured. The kitchen girl who first brought the nightingale to court is rewarded. Gentle lessons about freedom, possession, and the power of music are imparted as sweetly as the nightingale’s song and as lavishly as a king’s treasure.

Exquisite bookmaking and Pinkney at his finest. (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8037-2464-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the...

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE TEACHER OF THE YEAR

From the Charlie Bumpers series , Vol. 1

Charlie Bumpers is doomed. The one teacher he never wanted in the whole school turns out to be his fourth-grade teacher.

Charlie recalls third grade, when he accidentally hit the scariest teacher in the whole school with his sneaker. “I know all about you, Charlie Bumpers,” she says menacingly on the first day of fourth grade. Now, in addition to all the hardships of starting school, he has gotten off on the wrong foot with her. Charlie’s dry and dramatic narrative voice clearly reveals the inner life of a 9-year-old—the glass is always half empty, especially in light of a series of well-intentioned events gone awry. It’s quite a litany: “Hitting Mrs. Burke in the head with the sneaker. The messy desk. The swinging on the door. The toilet paper. And now this—the shoe on the roof.” Harley has teamed once again with illustrator Gustavson (Lost and Found, 2012) to create a real-life world in which a likable kid must face the everyday terrors of childhood: enormous bullies, looming teachers and thick gym coaches with huge pointing fingers. Into this series opener, Harley magically weaves the simple lesson that people, even teachers, can surprise you.

Readers will be waiting to see how Charlie faces his next challenge in a series that marks a lovely change of pace from the sarcasm of Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-56145-732-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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