Though it’s bumpy, it’s still a novel way to add some zany celebrations to the family or classroom calendar.

WORLD RAT DAY

POEMS ABOUT REAL HOLIDAYS YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF

The Children’s Poet Laureate takes a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the weird and wacky holidays that never quite make it onto commercially printed calendars.

The vast majority of the holidays here celebrate animals: from turtles, pigs and worms to pink flamingos, skunks and sloths, among others. While many of the above may not seem celebration-worthy, a few holidays are even stranger: International Cephalopod Awareness Day (Oct. 8) and two that many will instantly add to their personal calendars: Yell “Fudge” at the Cobras in North America Day (Jun. 2) and Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (Dec. 16). But while the subject matter is certainly fascinating and amusing, the poetry can be uneven, though the riffs on English spellings shine, and the wordplay is consistently clever, especially in “Eight Table Manners for Dragons.” But there is also an element of grimness and edginess—“Play with your food, but don’t let it run around screaming.” Raff’s heavily anthropomorphized watercolor critters here include one rat with tail aflame and another pinned to the floor between the tines of a fork. Limerick Day’s five poems are equally weak, while Frog Jumping Day’s verse has nowhere near the creativity and sheer reading pleasure of the similar “Puddle Paddle Battle” from Dr. Seuss’ Fox in Socks. And parents who don’t want to explain might want to skip Mule Day’s poem, “Jack A.”

Though it’s bumpy, it’s still a novel way to add some zany celebrations to the family or classroom calendar. (Poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5402-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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