THE FANTASTIC 5 & 10¢ STORE

A REBUS ADVENTURE

When sun, rain and snowflakes collide, a strange store suddenly rises up at the end of Pumpkin Street. Benny Penny is the only one brave enough to walk through the door. Inside, he finds a fantastical adventure. Written in verse comparable only to Lewis Carroll, toasters fly, ketchup dances and the cup gets a little saucy with the saucer. The winsome pinnacle of bizarre is the Pot and Teapot race. Other objects—and readers, too—cheer them on. But what makes this tomfoolery even more appealing is that it is also in rebus form. The rebus verses set off one side of the spread, and Fisher’s layered, diorama-style scenes envelop the other. Old clippings from five-and-dimes serve as wallpaper, and every label, on every item, is painstakingly detailed. While not ideal for just-emergent readers, those a little more advanced will likely embrace the game. A rebus poem by its very nature begs to be reread, but with ebullient wordplay and a nostalgic tug at the (admittedly adult) heart, this one will be especially hard to let go. (complete poem at end) (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-85878-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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An introduction to Earth for children big and small who live in this galaxy, or beyond.

IF YOU COME TO EARTH

To take care of one another and the Earth, we must truly see one another as unique and valued.

A young child with light beige skin, wispy brown hair, and a gnomish red cap writes an invitation: “Dear Visitor from Outer Space, / If you come to Earth, / here’s what you need to know.” What follows is a child’s introduction to this complex planet that begins in the child’s room, spins out to outer space, then back to Earth and its geography and topography, then to the people who inhabit this planet—where they live, how they live, and what they do. Along the way, outer-space visitors (and readers) learn about families, careers, clothing, transportation, fauna, even the American Sign Language and Braille alphabets. Throughout, diverse people are distinctively, carefully portrayed, emphasizing representation and visibility. In a library scene, the narrator says, “It’s better when we help each other”—an urgent response to a portrayal of war on the preceding spread. Two-time Caldecott Medalist Blackall balances eye-catching double-page spreads with white space, even focusing on a single powerful image—for instance, one giant bird formed from dozens of small birds fit together. Ribbons appear throughout the book, as winding blue rivers and spools of illustrated paper covered with the narrator’s extraterrestrial drawings. Each rich illustration invites return visits to investigate all the small, and big, details it contains. An author’s note explains the global origin of this offering.

An introduction to Earth for children big and small who live in this galaxy, or beyond. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-3779-7

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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