Author and illustrator set the opening scene as impeccably as their subjects: Life in Victorian England is grim. Even the Queen frowns as her coach drives through the dreary rain. But there is one place where life is brighter. A quick page turn reveals the light, topsy-turvy world of the opera stage. Winter explains that the opera is where “grown-ups acted silly, and everything got very, very, very confused.” And oh boy, did it ever. One day Gilbert and Sullivan, the famed lyricist/composer duo, get into an argument. Sullivan accuses Gilbert of writing the same opera over and over. With grumps and grumbles and scowls on their faces, they refuse to work with each other anymore. However, out of the argument comes the inspiration for The Mikado. Lessons of friendship and forgiveness slip in, and Egielski’s saturated, theatrical tableaux add warmth and weight, but the intended audience is as perplexing as, well, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Budding maestros will enjoy this dramatic tale, but youngsters unable to place the context may not relate much to these two mustached men. (author’s note, website) (Informational picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-439-93050-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 1

First volume of a planned three, this edited version of an ongoing online serial records a middle-school everykid’s triumphs and (more often) tribulations through the course of a school year. Largely through his own fault, mishaps seem to plague Greg at every turn, from the minor freak-outs of finding himself permanently seated in class between two pierced stoners and then being saddled with his mom for a substitute teacher, to being forced to wrestle in gym with a weird classmate who has invited him to view his “secret freckle.” Presented in a mix of legible “hand-lettered” text and lots of simple cartoon illustrations with the punch lines often in dialogue balloons, Greg’s escapades, unwavering self-interest and sardonic commentary are a hoot and a half—certain to elicit both gales of giggles and winces of sympathy (not to mention recognition) from young readers. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8109-9313-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2007

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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