RATTLESNAKE DANCE

The author of All About Rattlesnakes (not reviewed) proves a better naturalist than songsmith here, preceding an eerie lyric about a cavern full of rattlers in a trance, swaying in unison with a musical arrangement (done by Christopher Drobny) that features a spoken portion, a bewildering array of repeat signs, and notation for two dances supposedly on “page 32”—though the book’s pages are unnumbered, and there is but one dance described on the last page. With fitful rhyming and variable line lengths, the text does not read smoothly, and the pale watercolors of freely drawn, happy-looking snakes with fixed smiles and equally fixed eyes are likely to evoke shivers rather than the suggested snaky undulations. This reptilian jamboree just doesn’t have the finger-snapping, hip-swaying rhythm of Libba Moore Gray’s Small Green Snake (not reviewed) or Gail Jorgensen’s Crocodile Rock (not reviewed). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-27755-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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SEE PIP POINT

From the Adventures of Otto series

In his third beginning reader about Otto the robot, Milgrim (See Otto, 2002, etc.) introduces another new friend for Otto, a little mouse named Pip. The simple plot involves a large balloon that Otto kindly shares with Pip after the mouse has a rather funny pointing attack. (Pip seems to be in that I-point-and-I-want-it phase common with one-year-olds.) The big purple balloon is large enough to carry Pip up and away over the clouds, until Pip runs into Zee the bee. (“Oops, there goes Pip.”) Otto flies a plane up to rescue Pip (“Hurry, Otto, Hurry”), but they crash (and splash) in front of some hippos with another big balloon, and the story ends as it begins, with a droll “See Pip point.” Milgrim again succeeds in the difficult challenge of creating a real, funny story with just a few simple words. His illustrations utilize lots of motion and basic geometric shapes with heavy black outlines, all against pastel backgrounds with text set in an extra-large typeface. Emergent readers will like the humor in little Pip’s pointed requests, and more engaging adventures for Otto and Pip will be welcome additions to the limited selection of funny stories for children just beginning to read. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85116-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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