Peters debuts with a ``Springboard Book'' about a contest that surely could never be—but that will certainly elicit gleeful giggles. The ``Feetfirst'' company is sponsoring the unlikely event (as described in the title) for ten-year-olds, with the magnificent prize of ten pairs of ``Jaguar Jetstreams'' over the next ten years. Earl, one of six children, knows that winning would help his family; besides, he'd love—just once—to come out ahead of friend Damian, whose dad out west keeps him well supplied with things like new bikes but whose methods of winning don't always seem fair. Sure enough, Damian buys a pair of ancient sneakers for the contest, then ``cheats'' by seasoning them with rank cheese; but when he and Earl tie at the finish, he cancels out what he admits was unfair play: he throws the contest by using a ``Smell Repel'' insert. It's all rather obviously contrived, but kids will love it; and, while Earl's motto— ``Cheaters never prosper''—is not really borne out by the events, the debate about it is intrinsic to the story. Smith's freely squiggled, cartoony b&w illustrations (in which most of the characters are African-Americans) extend the lively characterizations and the humor. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-316-70214-5

Page Count: 58

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992


Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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