MESSY BESSIE

WHERE’S MY HOMEWORK?

Bessie, an untidy mouse, awakens one morning to a mess of monumental proportions. Readers are asked to help Bessie locate the items she requires as she prepares for school. Verses—“Bessie’s about to have a fit. / Please help her by finding it”—are arranged in rhyming couplets, and each two-page spread is dedicated to one aspect of Bessie’s morning ritual. Readers must seek to find a missing striped sock, a misplaced snack and even a permission slip among the scattered household items. Whether or not Bessie makes it out to the bus on time depends upon the reader’s detection skills. Making this particularly challenging is the fact that the things Bessie needs to find are simply named; readers are not given a pictorial clue to help locate them. For example, when Bessie needs her snack, it’s up to the readers to search the debris field of the kitchen to discover something snack-like. De Muth’s highly detailed illustrations are jammed with minutiae to an almost dizzying effect. Readers will need a discerning eye to discover the secrets hidden within them without feeling the need to go clean their own rooms. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-59354-181-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Apple

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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