Brumbeau and de Marcken (The Quiltmaker’s Gift, 2001) turn their attention from a kindly but determined quilter and a greedy king to a kindly queen and a determined lady who wears a Parisian hat with a live chicken on top. The conventional townspeople are outraged at this fashion faux pas, as their queen is due to arrive for a visit, and they are sure that Miss Hunnicutt and her hat will be an embarrassment. When the queen arrives with her own unusual hat sporting a live turkey, she trades hats with Miss Hunnicutt and invites her to the palace for a party. The townspeople immediately all start wearing hats with various fowl on top, but Miss Hunnicutt, style setter that she is, moves on to an even more unusual hat, with a porcupine to suit her rather prickly nature. De Marcken’s busy watercolor illustrations provide lots of amusing details in panoramic views of the old-fashioned town, including a poster-sized representation on the reverse side of the volume’s jacket. The endpapers show Miss Hunnicutt trying on an astonishing assortment of hats with living decorations, which might have made an intriguing story themselves. Though the hats with live adornment have a certain amount of appeal, the overly long, somewhat pedantic story fails to convey in a meaningful way the intended message of respecting individual style, and the story’s attempts at humor never achieve a satisfying fit. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-439-31895-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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