Younger kids are not likely to recognize many of the lesser-known types of pasta, but what a toothsome way to have fun with...

ABC PASTA

AN ENTERTAINING ALPHABET

Get your forks ready—this salute to pasta via the ABCs is truly entertaining, as the subtitle states.

Photographs of real pasta of many varieties are overlaid on loosely drawn digital drawings against white space to lend form and figure to circus performers A to Z. The cover image of a ringmaster with a rigatoni body sets up the conceit, and the fun is on. A stands for “angel hair acrobats”: four figures with angel-hair nests for faces and leotards with red, green, blue, or yellow stripes. C is for “campanelle clowns” wearing silly pasta hats. F is for “fettuccine fire-eaters,” with the pasta representing the fire. The occasional nonpasta item harmonizes nicely, as with the “herb hoops” a couple of acrobats use as props and the “plate spinners” named “Pecorino and Parmigiano.” Medina introduces other proper names too, as in “quick Quentin quadrucci” and “x-traordinary Xavier the xylophonist.” Some of the elements are quite exotic, such as the “nets” made of “nero di seppia” that catch the trapeze artists. The endpapers are small drawings of the various circus performers. Some require that readers look closely, as with the strands of “spaghetti” that act as bleachers for the “spectators.” All letters are presented clearly in both upper- and lowercase.

Younger kids are not likely to recognize many of the lesser-known types of pasta, but what a toothsome way to have fun with them. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-99978-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you

THE THANK YOU BOOK

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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