MATH ATTACK!

In a departure from her collections of children’s poetry (Halloween Hoots and Howls, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi, 1999, etc.), Horton’s latest, while it still rhymes, tells the story of a young girl suffering from a math attack. It all happens when Miss Glass asked her seven times ten: Numbers fly out of the girl’s head, bouncing off objects and hitting people. The nurse is no help, nor is a police officer—in fact, each time she recounts her plight, the numbers again pour out. The tale picks up momentum as the numbers wreak havoc in the town, but quickly slides into repetitiousness, with neither logic nor clever arithmetic games to give it a framework. While most of the couplets scan well, there are a few rhymes that just don’t work. Brooker’s artwork mixes painting with collage, resulting in busily full illustrations that are rich in textures. Ultimately, this falls far short of Jon Sczieska and Lane Smith’s masterful Math Curse (1995). With its tiresome repetition and lack of utility as a lesson springboard in classrooms, this is one attack to avoid. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: March 20, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-374-34861-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2009

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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ELIZABETI'S DOLL

Charmed by her new baby brother, Elizabeti decides that she wants a baby of her own; she picks up a smooth rock, names it Eva and washes, feeds, and changes her, and carries her about in her cloth kanga. Hale dresses Elizabeti and her family in modern, brightly patterned clothing that practically glows against the earth-toned, sketchily defined Tanzanian village in which this is set. Although Eva appears a bit too large for Elizabeti to handle as easily as she does, the illustrations reflect the story’s simplicity; accompanied by an attentive hen, Elizabeti follows her indulgent mother about, mimicking each nurturing activity. The object of Elizabeti’s affection may be peculiar, but the love itself is real. Later, she rescues Eva from the fire pit, tenderly cleans her, then cradles the stone until she—Elizabeti—falls asleep. Stuve-Bodeen’s debut is quirky but believable, lightly dusted with cultural detail, and features universal emotions in an unusual setting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-880000-70-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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