A clever take on teaching young readers about the justice system.


A bug and a slug appeal to the court to defend their right to marry in this Ruth Bader Ginsburg–inspired picture book.

Celebrations of the work of Ruth Bader Ginsburg seldom involve insects, but the late Supreme Court Justice’s presence as Ruth Bader Ladybug shows just how far her influence reached. Klazkin’s debut picture book opens with a loving couple: Barney the bug, a grasshopper with a ponytail, mustache, and a ball cap, and Sweet Sally the slug, whose blond hair, pearl necklace, and long dress give her a roughly sluglike shape. The pair kiss and cuddle in public, earning them a look of dismay from a bug. “Bugs and slugs do not mix,” a police officer bug reminds them. But they can’t deny their love, so they challenge the law in a court presided over by Ruth Bader Ladybug. After a fierce debate, the law is struck down, and love wins the day. Klazkin’s rhyming couplets generally scan well, although the layout of the text on some pages makes the ends of phrases difficult to find. A glossary offers definitions for more challenging vocabulary words. Laubach’s odd cartoon illustrations are uneven in their mix of human and bug/slug features, although the illustrations of Ruth Bader Ladybug, depicted in a lace collar, are a charming way to honor the justice. Though there are few details about how the court works, the concept of a court ruling on a law is solidly introduced.

A clever take on teaching young readers about the justice system.

Pub Date: July 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5255-7194-7

Page Count: 52

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 8, 2020

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A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...


A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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