THE GREAT DICTIONARY CAPER

Teachers will have field day with this wordplay; this caper is clever, capricious, and cunning.

Help! All of the words in Noah Webster’s dictionary are bored, so they make a break for it and the word parade begins.

Welcome to Hollyword, land of anthropomorphic words. The self-centered I is the grand marshal, together with the 34-letter “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (hyphenated three times to fit on the page). “The action verbs LOVE to show off” (there are “bounce,” “spin,” “ricochet,” and “jump,” among others). The “no-action contractions NEED SOME HELP,” as they’re a pretty defeatist bunch: “he couldn’t,” “she won’t,” “we didn’t.” Homophones tango by twos and threes, and “archaic words strut their SHAKESPEARE” with yummy entries such as “Garboil,” “Pismire,” “Sackbut,” and “Yerk.” (A closing glossary helps with these and other unfamiliar words.) Anagrams, antonyms, palindromes, rhyming words, conjunctions, and interjections also each have a double-page spread, the lively letters acting out the definitions. The palette of the digital illustrations uses orange, turquoise, and olive green to highlight the actions. Eye dots, smile lines, and wiggly arms and legs animate the letters. Exuberant and energetic design enlivens the letters as they bounce and frolic across the pages, minimalist compositions adding occasional details to amp up the fun: a crocodile-green “Nile” floats down a river; the A in “READ” holds open a book for its neighboring letters to enjoy.

Teachers will have field day with this wordplay; this caper is clever, capricious, and cunning. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8004-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

THE SHOW MUST GO ON!

From the Three-Ring Rascals series , Vol. 1

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

In this entertaining chapter book, the first in a series, readers meet kind Sir Sidney and the gentle performers and hands in his circus. But Sir Sidney is tired and leaves the circus under the management of new-hire Barnabas Brambles for a week.

That Sir Sidney is beloved by all is quickly established, presenting a sharp contrast to the bully Brambles. The scoundrel immediately comes up with a “to do” list that includes selling the animals and eliminating the mice Bert and Gert. (Gert is almost more distressed by Brambles’ ill-fitting suit and vows to tailor it.) Revealed almost entirely through dialogue, the put-upon animals’ solidarity is endearing. The story, like the circus train now driven by the Famous Flying Banana Brothers, takes absurd loops and turns. The art is fully integrated, illustrating the action and supplementing the text with speech bubbles, facsimile letters and posters, Brambles’ profit-and-loss notes, examples of Gert’s invented vocabulary and more. Brambles’ plans go awry, of course, and he gets his comeuppance. With Bert and Gert acting as his conscience, along with a suit from Gert that finally fits and a dose of forgiveness, Brambles makes a turnaround. Sensitive children may doubt Sir Sidney’s wisdom in leaving his animals with an unscrupulous man, and the closing message is a tad didactic, but that doesn’t blunt the fun too much.

Most children will agree the book is “smafunderful (smart + fun + wonderful).” (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61620-244-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Caldecott Honor Book

THEY ALL SAW A CAT

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Caldecott Honor Book

Wouldn’t the same housecat look very different to a dog and a mouse, a bee and a flea, a fox, a goldfish, or a skunk?

The differences are certainly vast in Wenzel’s often melodramatic scenes. Benign and strokable beneath the hand of a light-skinned child (visible only from the waist down), the brindled cat is transformed to an ugly, skinny slinker in a suspicious dog’s view. In a fox’s eyes it looks like delectably chubby prey but looms, a terrifying monster, over a cowering mouse. It seems a field of colored dots to a bee; jagged vibrations to an earthworm; a hairy thicket to a flea. “Yes,” runs the terse commentary’s refrain, “they all saw the cat.” Words in italics and in capital letters in nearly every line give said commentary a deliberate cadence and pacing: “The cat walked through the world, / with its whiskers, ears, and paws… // and the fish saw A CAT.” Along with inviting more reflective viewers to ruminate about perception and subjectivity, the cat’s perambulations offer elemental visual delights in the art’s extreme and sudden shifts in color, texture, and mood from one page or page turn to the next.

A solo debut for Wenzel showcasing both technical chops and a philosophical bent. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4521-5013-0

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Close Quickview