THE BOY WHO LOST HIS BELLY BUTTON

This quiet, engaging fantasy, illustrated in humorous, expressive color pencil falls flat at its sudden ending. A young boy is missing his belly button and asks all the animals about its whereabouts. Droll language emphasizes the silliness of the situation. Huge jungle animals fill the double-page spreads as the pajama-clad boy begins his journey with the giraffe. “I've lost my belly button. Do you know where it is?” “Search me,” says the giraffe. But the giraffe has had his since the day he was born. The Gorilla has one, too, “My mother gave it to me.” The boy parts the fur on a lion's belly with a large green comb and politely asks, “ ‘I was wondering if you borrowed my bellybutton?’ ‘Why would I? I've got a perfectly good one of my own,’ said the lion. ‘See?’ ” Animal after animal reports the existence of its own belly button: the zebra’s is striped, the hippopotamus’s muddy. Finally the journey concludes with a secretive crocodile sporting “something small and pink and round” and the brave, naked little boy courageously wades into the dark, forbidding swamp to retrieve his body part. Turning to the last page: “he grabbed it!” and the illustration is a close-up of the round bare tummy, belly button firmly in place. The conclusion, though in the tradition of the “gotcha!” story, is too abrupt and somewhat out of context with the charming absurdity and leisurely pace of the rest of the text. It will take a good storyteller to make it work, but it might be worth the effort. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7894-6164-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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SAY HELLO!

Today Carmelita visits her Abuela Rosa, but to get there she must walk. Down Ninth Avenue she strolls with her mother and dog. Colorful shops and congenial neighbors greet them along the way, and at each stop Carmelita says hello—in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and more. With a friendly “Jambo” for Joseph, a “Bonjour” at the bakery and an affectionate “Hey” for Max and Angel, the pig-tailed girl happily exercises her burgeoning multilingual skills. Her world is a vibrant community, where neighborliness, camaraderie and culture are celebrated. Isadora’s collaged artwork, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats, contains lovely edges and imperfections, which abet the feeling of an urban environment. Skillfully, she draws with her scissors, the cut-paper elements acting as her line work. Everything has a texture and surface, and with almost no solid colors, the city street is realized as a real, organic place. Readers will fall for the sociable Carmelita as they proudly learn a range of salutations, and the artist’s rich environment, packed with hidden details and charming animals, will delight readers with each return visit. Simply enchanting. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25230-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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SKELETON HICCUPS

Who hasn’t shared the aggravation of a whole day’s worth of bone-rattling hiccups? Poor Skeleton wakes up with a deadly case that he can’t shake, and it’s up to his friend Ghost to think of something to scare them away. Cuyler (Stop, Drop, and Roll, 2001, etc.) cleverly brings readers through the ups and downs of Skeleton’s day, from shower to ball-playing. Home folk remedies (holding his breath, eating sugar) don’t seem to work, but Ghost applies a new perspective startling enough to unhinge listeners and Skeleton alike. While the concept is clever, it’s Schindler’s (How Santa Lost His Job, 2001, etc.) paintings, done with gouache, ink, and watercolor, that carry the day, showing Skeleton’s own unique problems—water pours out of his hollow eyes when he drinks it upside down, his teeth spin out of his head when he brushes them—that make a joke of the circumstances. Oversized spreads open the scene to read-aloud audiences, but hold intimate details for sharp eyes—monster slippers, sugar streaming through the hollow body. For all the hiccupping, this outing has a quiet feel not up to the standards of some of Cuyler’s earlier books, but the right audience will enjoy its fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84770-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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