THE PLAYGROUNDS OF BABEL

A conversation starter.

A new take on the Babel tale featuring friendship, song, and a dragon.

Two children on a playground overhear an old woman telling a story. Since one child doesn’t understand her language, the other takes on the storytelling. The story differs from what the listener—and perhaps readers—is familiar with: After the people of Babel build their tower, “God sent a dragon to destroy the tower, and then God made it impossible for people to understand each other—by making new languages for everyone.” The translating child continues, describing how sudden linguistic barriers did nothing to dim the friendship between two young girls of Babel. Through song, the two discovered how to communicate once more. Conveyed entirely through dialogue, back-and-forth questioning between listening child and translating child moves the action forward but also prompts musings on belief and story. “None of it is realistic. It’s a story, not reality.…No one’s asking you to believe, just imagine.” Grobler’s mixed-media work illustrates the narrative layers. He sticks primarily to an inky palette for the playground action while illuminating the Babel tale with bright watercolor and colored pencil. Just as the skeptical child concedes, “That sounds realistic,” the illustrator injects color into the playground. Languages are denoted by different symbol sets rather than lettering, and the cast of characters is diverse in skin color and dress, including both pairs of friends.

A conversation starter. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77306-036-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

FROG AND BALL

From the I Like To Read Comics series

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages.

Never underestimate the chaotic fun that magic and an angry bouncing ball can create.

When Frog goes to the library, he borrows a book on magic. He then heads to a nearby park to read up on the skills necessary to becoming “a great magician.” Suddenly, a deflated yellow ball lands with a “Thud!” at his feet. Although he flexes his new magician muscles, Frog’s spells fall as flat as the ball. But when Frog shouts “Phooey!” and kicks the ball away, it inflates to become a big, angry ball. The ball begins to chase Frog, so he seeks shelter in the library—and Frog and ball turn the library’s usual calm into chaos. The cartoon chase crescendos. The ball bounces into the middle of a game of chess, interrupts a puppet show, and crashes into walls and bookcases. Staying just one bounce ahead, Frog runs, hides, grabs a ride on a book cart, and scatters books and papers as he slides across the library furniture before an alligator patron catches the ball and kicks it out the library door. But that’s not the end of the ball….Caple’s tidy panels and pastel-hued cartoons make a surprisingly effective setting for the slapstick, which should have young readers giggling. Simple sentences—often just subject and verb—with lots of repetition propel the action. Frog’s nonsense-word spells (“Poof Wiffle, Bop Bip!”) are both funny and excellent practice in phonetics. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4341-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

BALONEY AND FRIENDS

From the Baloney & Friends series , Vol. 1

Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future.

A new chapter-book series promises tons of fun for everyone.

Baloney the pig couldn’t be happier about starring in his very own book—until pals Peanut D. Horse, Bizz E. Bee, and Krabbit (a crabby rabbit) crash the introduction, leaving him frustrated. Baloney perseveres and goes on to star in several, short comic book–style stories that often break the fourth wall and that always rely on the very different personalities of the characters to deliver humor. Peanut is a Pollyanna and just a bit daffy. Bizz is a sensible, thoughtful bee-ing. Krabbit is so crabby he’d give Oscar the Grouch a run for his money. Baloney? Well, Baloney is a sensitive sort who, in two longer episodes, wants to entertain his friends with a magic show and join in their fun at swimming. Shorter “mini-comics” between these sections provide good breaks for new readers who are, perhaps, just starting to make their ways through a longer text like this. Pizolli saves the strongest story for last, delivering a sweet and satisfying portrait of Peanut’s kindness to her friend Baloney when he feels blue. And readers needn’t feel blue themselves that the story is over since they can follow handy backmatter instructions to draw their own versions of the simple, line-drawn characters.

Here’s hoping there will be a bunch of Baloney in the future. (Graphic fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05454-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion/LBYR

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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