MAD ABOUT PLAID

Newcomer McElmurry offers a madcap romp with a plaid that spreads like the flu. Little Madison Pratt finds a purse in the park, a plaid purse with a sad blue inside: “Don't worry. I'll take care of you,” says Madison. But as she steps along, the plaid on the purse starts to crawl up her arm and the next thing you know, Madison has a bad case of the plaids, from her allplaid clothes to the plaid blush on her cheek. She follows her doctor's orders to rest easy, but a small plaid burp escapes her lips (product of the non-plaid cola she is sipping) and taints the rest of the town plaid, all plaid. In a brainstorm, Madison returns to the park where she dropped the purse and turns it inside out, only to release a plague of melancholy blue over everything. Life returns to normal only after Madison sings an extra-silly round of her extra-silly song, which just goes to show that “as you probably already knew, with a silly grin on you can't stay blue.” McElmurry has written the story in rhyme, but she keeps the wordplay on the ragged side, with broken syncopations, to keep both readers and listeners alert. The artwork is jazzy and two-dimensional, with, of course, the emphasis on color, as a book about plaid really ought to do. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-16951-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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