GOING NORTH

Any child who has ever faced the upheaval of a cross-country move will relate to this gorgeous, autobiographical picture-book poem about an African-American family that moves north from Alabama to Nebraska in 1964. The girl protagonist doesn’t want to go—she wants to stay with Big Mama and peel sweet potatoes: “But Going-North Day hurries to our door / like it’s tired of our slowpokey ways.” As the yellow station wagon heads north (a journey mapped on the endpapers), the girl watches the world go by, thoughts echoing the rhythms of the road: “good / bye / good / bye / good / bye.” The family almost runs out of gas because the segregated stations won’t serve them, but the African-American–owned Joe’s Gas pulls through, and the girl thinks maybe the North will be better “may / be / may / be / may / be.” The impressionistic, color-rich paintings are as warm and expressive as the lyrical story, a nighttime view of the car’s headlights and taillights cutting the midnight-blue darkness is as stunning as the full-bleed, double-page spread of big sky and cotton fields. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2004

ISBN: 0-374-32681-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Dog lovers will especially “LOVE” this, and readers who can’t get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author’s blog.

LOVE IS MY FAVORITE THING

Clark captures a dog’s exuberance and love of the simple things.

While the text is missing any mention of “Squirrel!” still, Plum jumps from one thing to the next that she loves, from wind and snow and catching and sticks and the kids next door to the park, water, tug of war, and ice cream. It’s these last four things that get Plum into trouble one day, one awful day when she wonders if any of the people she loves still love her—that’s how naughty she’s been. This is doubly tough for poor Plum, as LOVE is her favorite thing in the world, LOVE being the love she has for her family, Emma and Rupert, and for Gracie and Sam, the kids next door, and the love they have for her. Clark uses white backgrounds and spreads that vary among comic panels, vignettes, single-page and double-page spreads to pace the tale and make it clear to readers just how energetic and exuberant the scruffy black mutt is. And no child will fail to understand the dog’s conundrum: she knows what she should do and yet feels compelled to do the wrong thing anyway. Fur, ears, and posture speak volumes.

Dog lovers will especially “LOVE” this, and readers who can’t get enough can follow the real-life Plum in the author’s blog. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-17503-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more