An impressive story about a girl whose courage transforms a town.

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LYLA LYTE AND THE LI'BERRY FRUIT

Nine-year-old author Ricketts (Where Are the Animals, 2010) returns with the adventure of Lyla Lyte, a young girl who rescues books from obscurity.

Lyla is desperate to use her imagination, but she doesn’t know how. Several attempts end in failure before Lyla’s mother reveals that, before Lyla was born, there were objects called books that helped people learn how to use their imaginations. But the Mayor banned all books and ordered them to be buried. Despite promising to keep this newfound information secret, Lyla tells all her friends. They join her in a quest to find the buried books, but their search instead turns up a seed. Lyla plants the seed, and an unusual tree sprouts—one that grows books. The kids take to referring to the books as “li’berry fruits” to disguise their true identity, but soon, everyone in Lyla’s class knows. Eventually, the li’berry fruits spread across town through a series of sweetly hopeful book exchanges and strategic drops around the community. The children’s increasing engagement with these illegal books—and, as a result, with the world around them—ratchets up the suspense in an already fast-paced and well-written novel. In a fresh and frank way, never betraying the youthful naïveté of a child, Ricketts addresses sophisticated issues of personal freedom and the longing for change. Why a town of readers would willingly surrender their books and not fight back may be a question that strains readers’ credulity, but Lyla’s mission is noble nonetheless. Although the characters remain single-minded and often seem a bit flat, Ricketts' tale has much to teach about the redemptive power of reading and imagination.

An impressive story about a girl whose courage transforms a town.

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0983711315

Page Count: 196

Publisher: Climbing Clouds Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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