RACCOON’S LAST RACE

Azban the Raccoon is a favorite Abenaki trickster and this father-and-son storytelling pair creates a lively, clever, and authentic version of his story. Long ago, Raccoon had long legs and was the fastest runner of the animals but Bear, Fox, and Rabbit get tired of being beaten and refuse to race or speak to him. So Azban tries to convince Big Rock, at the top of a tall hill, to compete—and he pushes him over the side. As Big Rock gathers speed, Azban thinks he’s racing, zigzags in front him, and trips. “Ka-thunk!” Big Rock rolls Azban flat and wide, “SPLAT!” None of the animals will help him until an ant agrees; Azban’s promise to be his friend seals the deal. As the army of ants pushes and pulls him back into shape, he brushes them off before they finish stretching him out, calling them “horrible” and breaking his promise. Thus, Raccoon remains short and squat and can no longer run fast. The illustrators’ familiar pen-and-ink, gouache, and pastel work is as appealing as ever—Azban is a particularly engaging character. Readers will hope this foursome keeps on rolling. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2977-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2004

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

BUNNY MONEY

From the Max & Ruby series

In the siblings' latest adventure, their grandmother is having a birthday (again! see Bunny Cakes, p. 67), so Ruby takes Max shopping. A music box with skating ballerinas is Ruby's idea of the perfect present; Max favors a set of plastic vampire teeth. Ruby's $15 goes fast, and somehow, most of it is spent on Max. The music box of Ruby's dreams costs $100, so she settles for musical earrings instead. There isn't even a dollar left for the bus, so Max digs out his lucky quarter and phones Grandma, who drives them home—happily wearing her new earrings and vampire teeth. As ever, Wells's sympathies are with the underdog: Max, in one-word sentences, out-maneuvers his officious sister once again. Most six- year-olds will be able to do the mental subtraction necessary to keep track of Ruby's money, and Wells helps by illustrating the wallet and its dwindling contents at the bottom of each page where a transaction occurs. Younger children may need to follow the author's suggestion and have an adult photocopy the ``bunny money'' on the endpapers, so they can count it out. Either way, the book is a great adjunct to primary-grade math lessons. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-2146-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997

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