Every writers’ group should start with this story. (Picture book. 7 & up)

LITTLE RED WRITING

Exploding with puns, wordplay and the irrepressible desire to re-imagine “Little Red Riding Hood” one more time, Holub and Sweet bring forth some actual useful writing advice—that’s not just for beginners.

It’s Write On! Day at the Pencilvania School, and all the little pencils and their teacher, Ms. 2, are about to follow the story path. Ms. 2 gives our heroine, Little Red, a basket of nouns and reminds her to stick to the path. She becomes entangled in descriptive adjectives, stuck in a sentence that just keeps going, and is rescued and then ambushed by adverbs and random nouns. Principal Granny seems to have a long electric tail and a growly voice when Little Red gets to her office. It’s not the principal but the Wolf 3000—a voracious pencil sharpener! But Little Red has one noun left, and she uses it judiciously. Watercolor, pencil and collage give the magnificent Sweet lots of material to play with: The little pencil-pupils each have an identifying eraser cap (a stegosaurus, a basketball, a map of Pencilvania). When Little Red looks for excitement in her story, she goes to the gym and is “quickly drawn into the action,” as all the pencils twist, jump and play catch on the page. The artwork—which integrates written text in a variety of lettering styles—fills the pages with a riot of color, shape, movement and design. Endpapers and title pages are all part of the tale. Little kids should love the illustrations and their multiplicity of meanings, and older children trying out their writing wings will find good, strong advice.

Every writers’ group should start with this story. (Picture book. 7 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7869-2

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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