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THE BIG ROCK CANDY MOUNTAIN

With a wink and a nod to the hobo song popularized, as a child’s song, in the ’40s by Burl Ives, this version changes the lyrics (and rhythm) even more to include root beer floats, chocolate eggs, candy trees, s’mores, and a family that frolics with bears. The altered rhythms and imagery seems to dilute the vibrancy of the Ives tune. Well-executed paintings include a delightful allusion to the portraits at Mt. Rushmore and images that will evoke thoughts of strawberry shortcake, jellybean bushes, and lollipop trees. The illustrations are definitely the most charming component here. Although there is no mention of the traditional or the Ives version of the song, the author does include his lyrics with a musical arrangement by Bluegrass musicians Kathy Boyd and Mark Gensman. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 1-59336-062-2

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Mondo Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2004

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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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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WHERE ARE YOUR SHOES, MR. BROWN?

Pedestrian.

Mr. Brown can’t help with farm chores because his shoes are missing—a common occurrence in his household and likely in many readers’ as well.

Children will be delighted that the titular Mr. Brown is in fact a child. After Mr. Brown looks in his closet and sorts through his other family members’ shoes with no luck, his father and his siblings help him search the farm. Eventually—after colorful pages that enable readers to spot footwear hiding—the family gives up on their hunt, and Mr. Brown asks to be carried around for the chores. He rides on his father’s shoulders as Papa gets his work done, as seen on a double-page spread of vignettes. The resolution is more of a lesson for the adult readers than for children, a saccharine moment where father and son express their joy that the missing shoes gave them the opportunity for togetherness—with advice for other parents to appreciate those fleeting moments themselves. Though the art is bright and cheerful, taking advantage of the setting, it occasionally is misaligned with the text (for example, the text states that Mr. Brown is wearing his favorite green shirt while the illustration is of a shirt with wide stripes of white and teal blue, which could confuse readers at the point where they’re trying to figure out which family member is Mr. Brown). The family is light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Pedestrian. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5460-0389-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WorthyKids/Ideals

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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