More a sure-fire flop than a patriotic primer.

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LITTLE AMERICA

It's unlikely little ones will garner much appreciation for the U.S. of A. from these trivial riddles.

Rhymes cover a gamut of iconic (and not-so-iconic) images associated with the United States of America. The design is developmentally unfortunate for the audience, with a riddle on the right-hand page of each spread. Each page turn reveals the answer and begins the set-up for the next example, creating a disconnect between riddle and image. Although visual clues indicate a riddle's answer—an eagle's wings appear around the box of text that contains the verse, for instance—it doesn't work for a board-book audience. Clichés abound (apple pie, cowboy), while a tour of landmarks provides only a superficial overview. Phony enthusiasm is the order of the day. “Its pretty flowers / smell so sweet / this thorny flower / can't be beat.” (And since when has the rose been a symbol of the United States?) The necessary superficiality results in an experience almost devoid of meaning; the focus on the White House, for example, skips any mention of the country's Commander in Chief. “In Washington, D.C. / you're sure to see / this special house / and a cherry tree!”  

More a sure-fire flop than a patriotic primer. (Board book. 3-4)

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-179-3

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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THE BLOODHOUND GANG IN THE CASE OF THE CACKLING GHOST

Two one-dimensional detection cases of the sort that seem to be proliferating. These feature the Bloodhound Gang of TV's 3-2-1 Contact. In The Case of the Cackling Ghost, Professor Bloodhound's three young employees—ages 10, 15, and 16—are summoned to a large country house, where an old woman is bothered by nightly visits from a ghost. The ghost, the trio soon discovers, is really clumps of moths attracted by pheromones—an illusion cooked up by the woman's debt-ridden nephew who hopes to frighten her into turning over her precious, but reputedly curse-ridden necklace. In . . . Princess Tomrorow, the gang is called as witnesses for a shady couple who pretend to predict horse-race results—but the corroborating letter received by the agency has actually been mailed after the race. The one they witnessed being mailed before the race has been invalidated by a wet but deliberately glueless postage stamp. They're both clever tricks, but of a sort that usually come five or ten to a volume. There's no attempt to flesh out the puzzles, and not a trace of the Fleischman wit and vigor.

Pub Date: April 1, 1981

ISBN: 0394946731

Page Count: 63

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1981

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THE CASE OF FLYING CLOCK

These latest adventures of the Bloodhound Gang (from public TV's 3-2-1 Contact) have a little more zip than the dismally perfunctory lust two (p. 800, J-186), but there is still little evidence of the Fleischman wit, inventiveness, and high spirits. And of course the idea of three kids investigating for an insurance company is too far-fetched for any nine-year-old's reality meter. But that's the situation in The Case of the Flying Clock, when Vikki, Ricardo, and Zach check out the theft of a snobbish horologist's flying pendulum clock. "Once belonged to Louis," says pompous Mr. Keefe—Louis XVI, that is. But because they know that steam will fog a mirror and salty water makes objects more buoyant, the Gang deduces that Mr. Keefe did not see a red-haired robber, as he claimed, but instead dumped his plastic-wrapped clock in his wishing-well pending future removal. The Case of the Secret Message brings the Bloodhounds up against a purse snatcher, a smuggler called Mr. Big, his bodyguard Muscles, and a little old lady who seems first a victim, then a cohort, and at last reveals herself as a young policewoman. Perhaps the point of the series is that the TV tie-in will lead habitual viewers to print. In any case, these belong with the merchandise mysteries.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1981

ISBN: 0394847652

Page Count: 68

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1981

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