Praiseworthy! (Early reader. 6-8)

WORDPLAY

Fun with compound words defines this early reader.

In a classroom headed by a white teacher, a diverse group of children with varied skin tones reviews a lesson about compound words. “Homework” is the first such word that a brown-skinned, black-haired girl named Annemarie identifies, and an accompanying illustration uses a thought balloon to show her imagining two anthropomorphic houses in hard hats doing roadwork with a jackhammer. Similar pictures and playful text follow in later spreads that depict Annemarie and other children in the classroom and playing on the playground while thinking of other compound words. The compound wordplay continues as Annemarie drives home with her father and then interacts with her family, all of whom share her coloring. A return to school has Annemarie turning in her homework, pleased with the many compound words she’s listed. Throughout, humorous digitally colored cartoon illustrations provide context clues for readers decoding the compound-word–rich text. The use of panels in the well-designed spreads makes it easy to follow the engaging, sequential illustrations.

Praiseworthy! (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943145-17-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: TOON Books & Graphics

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early...

WE ARE GROWING!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

Elephant and Piggie make an appearance to introduce the first in their new series, an egalitarian introduction to superlatives.

Each one of seven blades of talking grass—of a total of eight—discovers that it is superb at something: it’s tallest, curliest, silliest, and so forth. The humor aims to appeal to a broad spectrum. It is slightly disturbing that one being eaten by purple bugs is proud of being the crunchiest, but that will certainly appeal to a slice of the audience. The eighth blade of grass is grappling with a philosophical identity crisis; its name is Walt, a sly reference to Whitman's Leaves of Grass that will go right over the heads of beginning readers but may amuse astute parents or teachers. Tension builds with the approach of a lawn mower; the blades of grass lose their unique features when they are trimmed to equal heights. Mercifully, they are chopped off right above the eyes and can continue their silly banter. Departing from the image of a Whitman-esque free spirit, Walt now discovers he is the neatest. Lots of speech bubbles, repetition, and clear layout make this entry a useful addition to lessons on adjectives and superlatives while delivering a not-so-subtle message that everyone is good at something. Elephant and Piggie's final assertion that “this book is the FUNNIEST” doesn't necessarily make it so, however.

Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2635-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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