RITA THE LIZARD

Bursting with life in its clever visuals and antic sense of play, an abundance of activity is on offer in this story about a fun-loving red lizard.

Rita, the titular flat, red lizard, is first seen lounging on the beach as a paper sailboat passes by. "Rita thinks she is a chameleon just like her Uncle William," but her bright, unchanging color and strange habits (like snoring while she sleeps on a zebra) don't exactly make her blend into the background. The identity crisis is solved with the help of her animal friends, and the whole affair concludes with a festive dance party as Rita celebrates who she really is. The message is carefully inserted into dense layers of gorgeously textured art and buoyed by plenty of surrealist touches. A giraffe wears boots; a duck flies by, calmly embedded within a hot-air balloon; and a photo on a wall suddenly sprouts a long, stringy mustache. The app's animations and extra features are beautifully presented and fit right in with the rest of the story. If that weren't enough, each page has an optional countdown that tells readers exactly how many interactive goodies are available. Activate all of them and an award notification pops up that, remarkably, doesn't break up the flow of the story. Rita's realization that being a lizard is great is carried effortlessly by all the terrific visual asides along the way. (iPad storybook app. 3-10)

 

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Irene Blasco Grau

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013

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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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A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images.

THURGOOD

The life journey of the first African American to serve on the United States Supreme Court and the incidents that formed him.

Thurgood Marshall grew up in segregated Baltimore, Maryland, with a family that encouraged him to stand for justice. Despite attending poor schools, he found a way to succeed. His father instilled in him a love of the law and encouraged him to argue like a lawyer during dinner conversations. His success in college meant he could go to law school, but the University of Maryland did not accept African American students. Instead, Marshall went to historically black Howard University, where he was mentored by civil rights lawyer Charles Houston. Marshall’s first major legal case was against the law school that denied him a place, and his success brought him to the attention of the NAACP and ultimately led to his work on the groundbreaking Brown v. Board of Education, which itself led to his appointment to the Supreme Court. This lively narrative serves as an introduction to the life of one of the country’s important civil rights figures. Important facts in Marshall’s life are effectively highlighted in an almost staccato fashion. The bold watercolor-and-collage illustrations, beginning with an enticing cover, capture and enhance the strong tone set by the words.

A larger-than-life subject is neatly captured in text and images. (author’s note, photos) (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6533-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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