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The “Help Wanted” sign in a cafe window draws some unusual applicants in this breezy, tongue-in-cheek middle reader from the author of Mean Mean Maureen Green (1999). As proprietor/struggling writer Uncle Clem insists that nothing worth noting ever happens along their stretch of Nevada road, young Sam serves up a peanut-butter/fried-banana/bacon sandwich to a man with a pink Cadillac and blue suede shoes (“ ‘Thank you,’ drawled the man. ‘Thank you very much.’ ”) and a vanilla shake to a jolly vacationer from way up north (“Red cheeks: check. White beard: check. Round little belly: check. No. It couldn't be!”). Then an oversized dust devil delivers a girl with a dog (“ ‘I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.’ ”) and helps rescue a small green traveler from a—vehicle—that crashes nearby (“ ‘Can't understand a word he says,’ said Uncle Clem. ‘Must be from out of state.’ ”) And these aren't the only visitors. Kidd supplies a generous array of vignettes and full-page cartoons, adding both fun and visual clues to the identities of these new employees. Though the Lonesome Cafe can't match Cynthia Rylant's Van Gogh Cafe (1995) for marvelous goingson, this will be a hit with young children, as well as reluctant readers old enough to twig to the cultural references. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202134-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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From the Fantastic Frame series , Vol. 1

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Two kids get up close and personal with some great works of art in this first in a new series.

Tiger Brooks is used to his little sister’s fantastical stories. So when the top-hatted orange pig she describes turns out to be not only real, but a next-door neighbor, Tiger enlists the help of his kooky new friend, Luna, to investigate. It turns out the pig works for the reclusive painter Viola Dots. Years ago a magical picture frame swallowed up her only son, and she’s searched for him in artworks ever since. When Tiger’s tinkering starts the magic up again, he and Luna are sucked into a reproduction of Henri Rousseau’s Surprised! or Tiger in a Tropical Storm, hungry predator and all. After meeting and failing to rescue Viola’s son in this adventure, the series is set up for the intrepid pair to infiltrate other classic paintings in the future. Backmatter provides information on the real Rousseau and his life. Oliver keeps the plot itself snappy and peppy. While there are few surprises, there’s also an impressive lack of lag time. This is helped in no small part by Kallis’ art, which goes from pen-and-ink drawings to full-blown color images once the kids cross over into the painting. Tiger is a white boy, and Luna is a dark-haired Latina.

Eeney meeney miney moe, catch this series before it goes! (Adventure. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-448-48087-9

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Deliberately constructed, Wilson’s wordless picture book makes an adroit and whimsical artistic statement and invites audience participation. On the title page, a child’s hands reach toward a bundle of colored pencils dangling from a branch; the pencils are in bright colors but everything else is sketched in black and white. In careful detail, the child draws a magpie seen on a branch outside the window (perhaps the same branch where the pencils were hung) and when the drawing is completed, the bird flies away from the paper. The child draws cherries, shimmering red on the page, and the bird eats them; the child draws an orange balloon, which the bird pops. Things get a little dangerous when the bird grabs a piece of yellow that sets the page afire and then scribbles blue water that makes a mess. Drawings and events co-determine each other: the child has cages the magpie, the bird grabs the eraser through the bars and escapes the cage, and so it goes, to a last laugh when a claw seizes the pencils and makes a brilliant rainbow of feathers. The only words are the names of the colors, appearing at the end. The realistic drawing style and the use of saturated color on an otherwise black-and-white page are an arresting combination. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2354-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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