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BERTOLT

Humor, contemplation, and masterful illustrations.

A character who resembles the Kilroy image of World War II—with the addition of a mobile body—reveals himself as an imaginative introvert.

His simple, cartoonish, acorn-capped head sways flawlessly from side to side, as the single-mittened character/narrator expresses his irritation: “Darn, darn, and more darn. Where’s my mitten? I don’t see it anywhere.” His decision to choose a strongly mismatched mitten from “the Lost & Found” (lockers in the background imply it’s at school) leads to musings—not over someone else’s missing mitten but over being mistreated if you are different. This segues into the character’s assertion that he is a loner who likes his life that way. Lively illustrations of solitary fishing, baking, one-sided chess games, and nighttime skateboarding—in a graveyard!—back up his claims. Finally, readers meet the ancient, titular oak tree, among whose branches the narrator has spent many enjoyable hours. Tangents emerge as readily as Bertolt’s branches—among them, furtive lives of townsfolk (all of whom appear to be white, including the narrator) and observations of wildlife and weather. When Bertolt does not produce leaves one spring, it takes a while for the truth to sink in. In a burst of ingenuity that leads readers all the way back to the story’s opening, the narrator memorializes his arboreal friend. Fine, black inked lines, occasional washes, and the remarkable use of textural colored pencils never miss a beat in extending the text.

Humor, contemplation, and masterful illustrations. (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59270-229-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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CHARLOTTE'S WEB

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often...

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A successful juvenile by the beloved New Yorker writer portrays a farm episode with an imaginative twist that makes a poignant, humorous story of a pig, a spider and a little girl.

Young Fern Arable pleads for the life of runt piglet Wilbur and gets her father to sell him to a neighbor, Mr. Zuckerman. Daily, Fern visits the Zuckermans to sit and muse with Wilbur and with the clever pen spider Charlotte, who befriends him when he is lonely and downcast. At the news of Wilbur's forthcoming slaughter, campaigning Charlotte, to the astonishment of people for miles around, spins words in her web. "Some Pig" comes first. Then "Terrific"—then "Radiant". The last word, when Wilbur is about to win a show prize and Charlotte is about to die from building her egg sac, is "Humble". And as the wonderful Charlotte does die, the sadness is tempered by the promise of more spiders next spring.

The three way chats, in which they are joined by other animals, about web spinning, themselves, other humans—are as often informative as amusing, and the whole tenor of appealing wit and pathos will make fine entertainment for reading aloud, too.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1952

ISBN: 978-0-06-026385-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1952

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ADA TWIST AND THE PERILOUS PANTS

From the Questioneers series , Vol. 2

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book.

Ada Twist’s incessant stream of questions leads to answers that help solve a neighborhood crisis.

Ada conducts experiments at home to answer questions such as, why does Mom’s coffee smell stronger than Dad’s coffee? Each answer leads to another question, another hypothesis, and another experiment, which is how she goes from collecting data on backyard birds for a citizen-science project to helping Rosie Revere figure out how to get her uncle Ned down from the sky, where his helium-filled “perilous pants” are keeping him afloat. The Questioneers—Rosie the engineer, Iggy Peck the architect, and Ada the scientist—work together, asking questions like scientists. Armed with knowledge (of molecules and air pressure, force and temperature) but more importantly, with curiosity, Ada works out a solution. Ada is a recognizable, three-dimensional girl in this delightfully silly chapter book: tirelessly curious and determined yet easily excited and still learning to express herself. If science concepts aren’t completely clear in this romp, relationships and emotions certainly are. In playful full- and half-page illustrations that break up the text, Ada is black with Afro-textured hair; Rosie and Iggy are white. A closing section on citizen science may inspire readers to get involved in science too; on the other hand, the “Ode to a Gas!” may just puzzle them. Other backmatter topics include the importance of bird study and the threat palm-oil use poses to rainforests.

Adventure, humor, and smart, likable characters make for a winning chapter book. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3422-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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