Amusing but perhaps spread a bit too thin.

READ REVIEW

The Goodwill Vultures Club

A DAY OF HEROES

A wounded pet vulture helps Buzz, a soon-to-be fifth-grader, connect with new human friends after the pet lights up the life of a special needs child and her family.

Buzz calls to order a meeting of the Goodwill Vultures Club, consisting of one human, two dogs and Roberta the vulture. Conveniently, Buzz’s dad—whom Buzz lives with following his parents’ divorce—happens to be an ornithologist who received a permit to keep Rob. The club is interrupted by PeeWee, Buzz’s African-American best friend, who lives next door. The boys’ dialogue is sometimes dated: “And what are you doing having a club meeting with your animals? That’s just weird,” Peewee says. “Whatever, corndog.” “Your granny is a corndog,” PeeWee shoots back. When Buzz takes Rob to a Special Populations basketball game (think Special Olympics for local kids) to help cheer on Jason—Buzz’s vain, wheelchair-bound teenage brother with cerebral palsy—a threatening older boy yells that the “ugly bird” is scaring the athletes, and a lady volunteer boots Buzz and Rob from the building. The next day, and somewhat unbelievably, Buzz takes Rob to another Special Populations event at an indoor pool, where he gets to know Caroline, an outgoing classmate. Next, PeeWee tells Buzz about “Animal Heroes,” a community contest for pets who have helped people. Buzz then gets called in to the community center to discuss an incident at the pool. Expecting bad news, Buzz is surprised—though even young readers might not be—by the good news that Rob delighted an autistic girl named Chrissy at the pool. A TV news story about how the vulture drew Chrissy out of her shell makes Buzz and Rob local favorites to win the competition. (The reporter keeps calling Rob a “most unusual pet vulture”; Buzz humorously wonders what a usual pet vulture would look like.) When Buzz and Rob next encounter the aforementioned tough, older boy—the brother of a “brooding” classmate, Mark—his attitude has completely changed because Chrissy happens to be his cousin. In the end, the good outcome for Chrissy and her family overshadows the actual outcome of the Animal Heroes contest. Though this novel is stuffed with too many storylines and plot contrivances, its unusual avian hero and overall good humor will appeal to many middle-grade readers.

Amusing but perhaps spread a bit too thin.

Pub Date: May 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1935711261

Page Count: 122

Publisher: Peak City Publishing, LLC.

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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