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3X4

So exemplary an execution of a simple concept that it can be read multiple ways—as multiplication, counting, sorting—without...

Annemarie from Wordplay (2017) and her class work on set theory.

Annemarie’s homework assignment is for the students to draw a dozen items in sets: Three sets of four, four of three, and two of six are all valid. While Annemarie tries to decide what she wants to draw, she wonders what her classmates are working on, and the book cuts to various kids and their work. Initial examples (four sets of three, the most common set division selected by the students) are organized with the extra visual division of the four panels on each page, building to full-page images that encourage kids to count the items in the illustration to determine the sets. There’s also a delightful sequence that shows four seeds, then four saplings, then four trees, which pieced together read as a comic strip. The book doesn’t teach math so much as it encourages developing number sense through play. The art (digitally colored) has minimal shading and emphasizes basic shapes in both characters and their drawings, making it easy for child readers to imitate while playing along and drawing their own sets. Annemarie’s a brown-skinned girl with black hair and glasses in a class filled with racial diversity and led by a teacher who has dark brown skin, black hair, glasses, and a jaunty bow tie.

So exemplary an execution of a simple concept that it can be read multiple ways—as multiplication, counting, sorting—without sacrificing fun. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-943145-34-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A BIKE LIKE SERGIO'S

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on...

Continuing from their acclaimed Those Shoes (2007), Boelts and Jones entwine conversations on money, motives, and morality.

This second collaboration between author and illustrator is set within an urban multicultural streetscape, where brown-skinned protagonist Ruben wishes for a bike like his friend Sergio’s. He wishes, but Ruben knows too well the pressure his family feels to prioritize the essentials. While Sergio buys a pack of football cards from Sonny’s Grocery, Ruben must buy the bread his mom wants. A familiar lady drops what Ruben believes to be a $1 bill, but picking it up, to his shock, he discovers $100! Is this Ruben’s chance to get himself the bike of his dreams? In a fateful twist, Ruben loses track of the C-note and is sent into a panic. After finally finding it nestled deep in a backpack pocket, he comes to a sense of moral clarity: “I remember how it was for me when that money that was hers—then mine—was gone.” When he returns the bill to her, the lady offers Ruben her blessing, leaving him with double-dipped emotions, “happy and mixed up, full and empty.” Readers will be pleased that there’s no reward for Ruben’s choice of integrity beyond the priceless love and warmth of a family’s care and pride.

Embedded in this heartwarming story of doing the right thing is a deft examination of the pressures of income inequality on children. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6649-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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THE GREATEST IN THE WORLD!

From the Tater Tales series , Vol. 1

This tater trio, and worm, will keep readers laughing, singing, and cheering from the first page to the last.

One grumbly day, two mutant tater brothers vie to determine who is the greatest in the world.

It’s goofy-looking Rot Poe Tater, with an awesome unibrow and “surprisingly sturdy stick legs,” versus big brother Snot, a sleepy, upset couch potato with bedhead. Tot, their “usually super chipper” little sister, acts as the judge. The first challenge, a potato sack race with shades of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” ends in a tie. The second contest is Hot Potato Hill, where the brothers must roll down a hill after Tot. No one wins, and the third contest is a laugh-off. Rot declares he’s laughing so hard that he needs to pee his pants but then remembers he doesn’t wear pants. When Rot and Snot are laughed out, Tot is still giggling. That’s when the plot twists and twists again. The text, primarily boastful speech-bubble banter between Rot and Snot, also contains songs, cheers from an enthusiastic worm, and fun wordplay, including alliterative places names like Barrel Bottom Bog and the Moldy Mounds. Text in a smaller typeface alternates with graphic panels, keeping the action moving. Expressive potato faces make the action and emotions clear. Fans of the picture book Rot: The Cutest in the World (2016) will enjoy seeing the protagonist again; Clanton relies on the same simple yet expressive cartoon illustrations and humor.

This tater trio, and worm, will keep readers laughing, singing, and cheering from the first page to the last. (pictures of other taters who have excelled in the Hot Potato Hill challenge, facts about potatoes, lesson on how to draw Rot) (Graphic novel. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9318-6

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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