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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2004

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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THIS SCHOOL YEAR WILL BE THE BEST!

On the first day of school, this primary-grade teacher encourages her students to share their hopes for the coming year. In one- or two-page spreads, the wishes unfold: for the best seat on the bus, a chocolate fountain at lunch, to kick the ball into the right goal, not to be a vegetable in the school play. The quotidian-but-nevertheless-marvelous (“at least one snow day”) mixes with the slightly ridiculous (“We’ll have Skateboard Day”) to provide a kid-level survey of anticipated fun. Andriani’s line-and-watercolor cartoons likewise mix the fanciful (one little boy brings his giant purple boa constrictor for show-and-tell) and the realistic (two girls jump double Dutch as one of them imagines making friends in her new school). A catalog more than a story, this agreeable book could act as a fruitful springboard for class brainstorming. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-525-42275-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2010

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