MR. EMERSON'S COOK

Schachner (Willy and May, 1995, etc.) presents Ralph Waldo Emerson and his world through the eyes of his Irish cook (and the author’s ancestor), Annie Burns. Upon arriving in the US, Annie answers an advertisement for “an extraordinary cook” to feed an “acclaimed poet and philosopher who has stopped eating due to an overactive imagination.” When she arrives at the farm, Annie is met by chickens wearing tiny boots (the work of Henry David Thoreau), and realizes she’s in for an unusual experience. The differences between immigrant Annie’s tough, sensible constitution and Emerson’s dreamy, thoughtful disposition are made clear, but not recklessly so: “Once I had a dream. An angel offered me the world in the size and shape of an apple. ‘This thou must eat,’ said the angel, and I ate the world,” Emerson tells Annie, who responds, “The last time I ate an apple, sir, ‘twas merely an apple.” Living on the Emerson farm opens up her creative side, and little by little Annie’s literal take on the world changes. A token from home, reminding her of the fanciful musings of childhood, inspires her to create a dish Emerson will eat. Annie’s transformation is full of poetic imagery and whirling lines; readers will become swept up in this fascinating story of self-discovery that also perfectly captures the great poet’s nature. An informative afterword gives Emerson’s and Annie’s backgrounds. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-525-45884-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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