Straight didacticism, uninspired by its obvious influences and too thin to provide more than a pretense of concealment for...

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I SPEAK DINOSAUR

Will loud roars, acting out and snatching toys away from younger sibs lead to friendly playtimes and happy parents, or being ejected from the house and shunned by the neighborhood? Take a wild guess.

Stripped down to a few flat phrases—“Dinosaurs never say, ‘Thank you.’ They just say, MUCKUS, BRUCKUS!”—matched to washy watercolor images, a lad switches back and forth between obnoxious human and garish red dinosaur throughout the day. He scatters his playmates, angers his mother and startles the neighbors in boisterous dinosaur mode. Punishment ensues. In an abrupt and thoroughly unconvincing turnaround, he discovers that responding politely to a group of peers’ oh-so-realistic “Hi! May we please play with you?” brings instant acceptance and that allowing little sister to join in will draw a smile from Mom. This clumsy exercise in parental wishful thinking looks and reads like a pastiche of Bob Shea’s Dinosaur Vs. series, Where the Wild Things Are and Calvin and Hobbes, and it is more apt to result in dismissive snickers than socialization.

Straight didacticism, uninspired by its obvious influences and too thin to provide more than a pretense of concealment for its agenda. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0233-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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