The right stuff for all young would-be space explorers.

LUDWIG THE SPACE DOG

Three-dimensional illustrations propel into orbit this imported tale of a dog with stars in his eyes.

The heavens feature sausages and other doggy treats as well as stars and planets in Ludwig’s dreams—and also in reality, as he discovers after a repair job on a penguinlike alien’s damaged spacecraft earns him a free ride. Thanks to particularly effective placement of cutout figures and shadows to go with the separated color lines, Löhlein’s collage scenes when viewed through the (supplied) red/cyan spectacles feature rockets and celestial bodies as well as feathers, wads of paper, postcards, and other items that seem to burst up from the page surfaces, while an uncommon depth of view makes the star-studded backdrops look as if they go on forever. Ludwig’s voyage reaches a truly spectacular climax, with planets cut from printed maps on the outside of a double gatefold giving way to a dizzying starscape of floating moons, ETs, and UFOs, along with such less-likely items as a wedge of cheese, fruits, and a rubber ducky. “WOW!” as the canine cosmonaut aptly puts it. The pictures do need the special glasses to look their dazzling best, but the narrative is readable with or without them.

The right stuff for all young would-be space explorers. (Novelty picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61067-648-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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