A whimsical, heartfelt picture book about a little bird with a surprisingly big dream.

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Elvis the Penguin, Second Edition

A pompadour-touting penguin makes a bid for fame in Casanova’s zany, rollicking debut children’s book.

There’s quite a stir in a wildlife habitat on the grounds of a Las Vegas hotel when an odd-looking baby penguin hatches from his egg. Named for his highly unusual hairdo, Elvis quickly attracts attention, from the sneers of flamingos to the admiration of a female penguin named Lucy. When a convention of Elvis impersonators visits the zoo, the little penguin finds himself inspired by his namesake. Elvis’ antics occasionally get him into trouble, including painting his flippers to look like blue suede shoes and making an ill-fated attempt to bring a hound dog to the penguin enclosure. In spite of such mischief, though, there’s no dampening his enthusiasm, and he’s determined to make it big onstage in Las Vegas someday. Just when it seems that fame is out of reach, an encounter involving some showgirls and a fast-talking, street-savvy penguin named Mario offers Elvis a surprising chance—if he can outrun security guards. This quirky, upbeat, and undeniably fun children’s book is sure to make even the most reluctant Elvis fan want to join in and sing along. The author has a keen sense of humor, including zany touches such as a bad-boy gang of Bronx Zoo penguins and plot twists that reference the lyrics to Elvis Presley’s songs. Some of the pop-culture nods may be better understood by adults than by children, but the song snippets and the child-friendly backdrop of the zoo make this a perfect introduction to a bygone era of music history. The book’s only sour note is in its crayon-and-pencil illustrations, which offer well-drawn depictions of the characters but lack the polish and professionalism of the text.

A whimsical, heartfelt picture book about a little bird with a surprisingly big dream.

Pub Date: April 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9861763-0-2

Page Count: 39

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2015

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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