THE LITTLE BUGGERS

INSECT AND SPIDER POEMS

Aimed at a younger audience than its wittier, more sophisticated cousin, Paul Fleischman’s Joyful Noise (1989), this collection of poems celebrates bugs. Lewis (The La-Di-Da Hare, 1997, etc.) has keen antennae for wordplay, seeking ways to exploit types of insects by making their attributes humorous. One poem features a praying mantis who kissed her mate on the first date, “then ate the pesky fellow.” Another zooms in on the vexing reputation of the housefly. Relationships to humans, referred to as “Them” in a silly poem about silverfish, fall under scrutiny; a plug for reading sneaks past in a poem about book mites; a cockroach announces that it was born “outside a place called Blueberry Muffin Mix.” Other snappy subjects include a streetlight where all the buggy locals hang out, and the myriad names for butterflies. While couple of poems feel forced—“The Doodlebug Song” strains for comedy while “The Ladybug” labors under its staccato rhythm—most are as short and rapid as insect chatter, as in the quip between “The Stinkbug and the Cricket.” Chess’s insect personifications are suitably wacky, exaggerating the insects’ large mouths and eyes and tiny feet. The title of each poem twists across the page, adding extra zip to the critters we so often zap. (Poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8037-1769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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