ONE THING I'M GOOD AT

Fourth-grader Julie Dorinsky believes herself a failure, even though she’s artistically talented and a whiz at marbles. For her, those things don’t count’she wants to be smart. Instead of joining the academically advanced kids on “Scholars Day,” Julie is stuck doing remedial work with the “dumb kids,” and a series of “poor work papers” are crumpled in her backpack, awaiting a parent’s signature. At home, Julie’s father is recovering from a heart attack and her mother has had to take a secretarial job to make ends meet, so the last thing Julie wants to do is upset the harried pair by admitting that she’s struggling at school—that she can barely read. In the course of the story Julie finds a new friend, Marlene, and discovers—predictably—that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Williams does a credible job presenting her protagonist’s confusion caused by her lack of reading ability, but the story falters in a somewhat contrived ending that turns Julie into a local hero. It may be difficult for readers to believe that the adults around Julie are unaware of her problems; her skills are too exceptionally minimal to go unnoticed. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16846-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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PAULINE

Pauline (32 pp.; $16.00; Oct. 5; 0-374-35758-7) The illustrator of Kate Banks’s many books (The Bird, the Monkey, and the Snake in the Jungle, p. 62, etc,) goes solo for a tale that proves children’s suspicion that bigger isn’t always better. Pauline, a fuzzy-eared weasel, is an unlikely heroine, but her courage and dramatic talents combine to save her best friend Rabusius the elephant, trapped by hunters. The thick bold lines and lush colors of the illustrations infuse the story with an excitement and immediacy that will appeal to preschoolers. The spreads are presented from a weasel’s-eye-view are particularly captivating and reinforce Pauline’s small stature and mighty impact. (Picture book. 3-6.)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-35758-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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