A witty alternative to Richard Scarry’s classic visual inventories or the simpler I Spy challenges.

CRABTREE

Trying to find his false teeth, Alfred Crabtree is forced to organize his stuff. And he really has a lot of stuff.

Strewn in the hundreds across large spreads and even one double gatefold, Alfred’s possessions are easy enough to recognize since they’re drawn in a simple cartoon style and conveniently labeled. Categorizing, however, really isn’t his strong suit—so even browsers who aren’t particularly sharp-eyed will have no trouble noticing, for instance, the traffic cone in his row of “Hats & Helmets” or the hot-dog bun amid “Tools & Utensils.” Creative labeling ranging from rhymed combinations of favorite foods (“Spam and a yam,” “Hash stew with cashews”) to a set of flint spear points dubbed “old tools” and, in a movie reference less likely to be caught by children than by their parents, a “stinkin’ badge” will also produce chuckles. Following one spread of “Broken Things” and another of ambiguous items headed “I Don’t Know What These Things Are,” Alfred, exhausted, gets a savvy suggestion from his sister that ends his search. That search, at least: The rear endpapers are a bulletin board of other misplaced items that may tempt viewers to go back and find them.

A witty alternative to Richard Scarry’s classic visual inventories or the simpler I Spy challenges. (huge foldout poster) (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-936365-82-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McSweeney's McMullens

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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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