A sure win for word lovers that’s also bound to create some new fans of words.

READ REVIEW

SMELL THE DAISIES

From the Big Words Small Stories series

This latest installment in the Big Words Small Stories series follows an active girl named Oleander and her laid-back pet, Sally Mander.

Following the same pattern as the previous series entries (The Traveling Dustball, 2019, etc.), five small stories are preceded by a “Who’s Who” section and followed by “A Small Play on Big Words.” The gray-haired Sprinkle Fairy has a word factory in Sicily, where her multicolored, animate-candy helpers, the Sprinklers, “sprinkle Big Words into small places.” Their appearance in an episode (along with their announcement, “Big word coming! BIG!”) precipitates the appearance of a big word at the climax of the story. The stories unfold in dialogue among characters, often punctuated with acts of magic by the Sprinkle Fairy. After being used repeatedly in the story, each big word is defined at the story’s end. The final “Small Play” is a skit presented by the Sprinklers in which all of the Big Words are used in context. The format makes the process of learning new vocabulary, such as “regurgitate,” “flabbergasted” and “peccadillo,” fun and exciting for young readers. The stories themselves are chuckleworthy, and the Big Word usage is delightful. The illustrations—small, brightly colored vignettes of characters on white space, almost like comics without the frames—are perfect for young independent readers. Oleander presents black, with two puffy pigtails, and the Sprinkle Fairy presents white.

A sure win for word lovers that’s also bound to create some new fans of words. (Early reader. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77138-790-3

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early...

WE ARE GROWING!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

Elephant and Piggie make an appearance to introduce the first in their new series, an egalitarian introduction to superlatives.

Each one of seven blades of talking grass—of a total of eight—discovers that it is superb at something: it’s tallest, curliest, silliest, and so forth. The humor aims to appeal to a broad spectrum. It is slightly disturbing that one being eaten by purple bugs is proud of being the crunchiest, but that will certainly appeal to a slice of the audience. The eighth blade of grass is grappling with a philosophical identity crisis; its name is Walt, a sly reference to Whitman's Leaves of Grass that will go right over the heads of beginning readers but may amuse astute parents or teachers. Tension builds with the approach of a lawn mower; the blades of grass lose their unique features when they are trimmed to equal heights. Mercifully, they are chopped off right above the eyes and can continue their silly banter. Departing from the image of a Whitman-esque free spirit, Walt now discovers he is the neatest. Lots of speech bubbles, repetition, and clear layout make this entry a useful addition to lessons on adjectives and superlatives while delivering a not-so-subtle message that everyone is good at something. Elephant and Piggie's final assertion that “this book is the FUNNIEST” doesn't necessarily make it so, however.

Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2635-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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A treasure house of mysteries large and small.

EVERYBODY COUNTS

A COUNTING STORY FROM 0 TO 7.5 BILLION

This Norwegian import is guaranteed to silence boastful Where’s Waldo grads.

It opens on a woodsy nature scene for zero, “No one,” before moving to a deceptively simple one (1) child in a bedroom who next joins his dad (2) for a forest outing. The count continues—by single digits to 30, then by various intervals to 1,000—on to depict crowd scenes in locales ranging from a library to a life drawing class, with many individualized figures (of diverse body type, skin tone, and hair texture and color) recurring. Inconspicuous captions below each picture offer either pointers to subtle visual cues or invitations to speculate about what they see. Of the 20 children in a classroom, for instance, “One of them is thinking about all the people who’ve lived before us. One of them has lost the class teddy bear. One of them is dreading football training. One of them will become prime minister.” Roskifte supplies some solutions, along with additional scenarios, at the close. She also gives viewers a bit of an assist by coloring in her small, doll-like humans throughout but leaving everything else as pale outlines. Switching at the end to a big blue marble floating in space, she rounds off the numbering with 7.5 billion followed by a barrage of leading questions, from what became of that lost teddy to lifelong posers, including the poignant “Does everyone share the same truth?”

A treasure house of mysteries large and small. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4524-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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