Inventive and lovely.

READ REVIEW

A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS

A derelict house on top of a hill beckons two young children.

Two children, possibly siblings, approach the waiting house on a winding, weed-covered path, all the while wondering about its past and those who dwelled within its walls. An empty window invites them to climb in. The tale is not told by the children but by an unseen narrator who seems to speak directly to the readers watching these events from outside the pages. The explorers find all sorts of items that were left behind, while the narrator asks, “Who looked in this mirror?” “Who napped in this chair?” “Who was this someone…who’s gone but is still everywhere?” The language is direct, appealing equally to ear, eye, and mind. Intricate double-page spreads allow readers to follow the children as they explore and imagine and then return to their own cozy home. Smith’s illustrations neatly separate action from imagination. The children and present-day house are depicted with blotted-line India ink, appearing a bit faded and mysterious (the children’s skin takes on the color of the paper beneath). Their imagined house dwellers’ activities are painted in bright, light-filled oils with paper collage; the soft edges of these reveal narrow white backgrounds, effectively separating them from now. It is all perfectly seamless; words and art are interwoven in a dance that enchants.

Inventive and lovely. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-314-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

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. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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