PUPPY POWER

Impetuous third-grader Fran wins a prime spot in the class play and learns to control herself, thanks to puppy school. Fran really wants to be the princess in the play but her behavior is anything but royal: She barrels through groups of little kids (“squirts”) to get to the tetherball pole first, collects roadkill to sneak into a schoolmate’s backpack and grabs the wrist of her kindergarten reading buddy. At home, her big puppy Hercules is having the same self-control problems, and, with Fran’s mother expecting a baby, it’s clear that Hercules needs to shape up. Or else. It’s hard to say who learns more at puppy kindergarten, Hercules or Fran, but they both progress, and Fran gets to show what a sweet princess she really can be. Though the resolution is too tidy, the familiar situation will resonate with the early elementary set. One cavil: The large typeface, coupled with Björkman’s expressive, somewhat exaggerated, black-and-white drawings, would be much more accessible to new readers if the design allowed for more white space between lines and at the margins. (notes on puppy-training) (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2073-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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THE RECESS QUEEN

Positing that bullies only act that way because they’re lonely, O’Neill (Loud Emily, 1998) puts seemingly meek, new classmate Katie Sue up against aggressive Mean Jean, swaggering boss of the playground. Knowing but one way to deal with challengers (“she’d push ’em and smoosh ’em, / lollapaloosh ’em, / hammer ’em, slammer ’em, / kitz and kajammer ’em . . .”), Mean Jean roughly tries to set Katie Sue straight on the pecking order. But Katie Sue stands up to her with a cheeky, “How DID you get to be so bossy?” and pulls out a jump rope, inviting Mean Jean to jump along. Presto change-o, a friendship is born. Huliska-Beith’s (The Book of Bad Ideas, 2000, etc.) rubbery-limbed figures, rolling perspectives, and neon-bright colors reflect the text’s informality as well as its frenzied energy. Though the suggested strategy works far more easily here than it would in real life, young readers will be caught up by Katie Sue’s engaging, fizzy exuberance. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-20637-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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