A funny, lighthearted story sure to appease everyone, animal lovers or not.

WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR HOUSE IS A ZOO?

A school-age boy wants to get a pet but can’t decide what kind.

When Oscar finally gets permission from his parents to get a pet, he doesn’t know which one to get. He put out an advertisement and receives an avalanche of letters from a vast range of animals ranging from Goldie the goldfish to Walter the whale. The animals even start coming to Oscar’s house, but most of them are not interested in playing with Oscar. With Oscar’s house so full, the family must sleep in their backyard. A final prank by Space Monkey Boo-Boo causes Oscar’s mom to lose her temper and send all the animals away. When the family moves back into their house, Oscar discovers one missed letter from Rufus, a dog who promises to always love Oscar and be his best friend. Told in first person by Oscar, the story is simple but quite funny. It may be a tad on the complicated side for very young readers, and readers looking for an overt moral are unlikely to find one. Veteran Laberis’ digitally created illustrations are neat, displaying the expressions of the family and the animals exquisitely. Oscar is a brown-skinned, biracial boy, with a white dad and brown-skinned, black-haired mom.

A funny, lighthearted story sure to appease everyone, animal lovers or not. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-84869-949-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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