Here’s hoping Hugo’s forthcoming tale will have more bounce.

BILLY THE GOAT'S BIG BREAKFAST

Billy Goat bites off more than he should.

“Nat the Cat made a breakfast to share / with her friends Billy Goat and Hugo Hare. / She was going to make a breakfast treat, / with some lovely homemade bread to eat.” Nat has set the dough out to rise when Billy arrives early. Billy doesn’t want to wait for Hugo, so to distract him, Nat suggests Billy set the table. While Nat is out gathering flowers for the centerpiece, Billy sets the table…but he just can’t resist the jug of juice. Then he sees the bread and takes a bite before he realizes it isn’t cooked. Hugo and Nat arrive, and Billy has to swallow—and then his tummy starts to bloat. Hugo and Billy try to hide the belly from Nat, but Billy confesses. After a breakfast of store-bought juice and what’s left of the dough (now cooked), Nat writes a song about Billy’s impatience, and the friends sing along. Alborough’s first of two companion books to Nat the Cat’s Sunny Smile (2013) is less charming than its predecessor. The song that appears as sheet music in the story and is available online is a bit flat and didactic, much like the story itself, and Alborough’s cheery illustrations are chopped up by the talky text.

Here’s hoping Hugo’s forthcoming tale will have more bounce. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61067-190-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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