A well-structured and deceptively simple dose of encouragement for emerging readers



Aardvark sings a surprise song for their buddy, Mouse.

Hands on their hips in what may well be an attempt to assume the power stance, Aardvark begins with a statement: “I think I can.” On the next page, quizzical Mouse—arms crossed and one eyebrow raised—repeats the phrase as a question: “You think you can?” The two volley similar sentences back and forth in this repetitive pattern. After a few rounds, Aardvark reveals that what they think they can do is sing. Then Aardvark builds anticipation for their song by declaring it a surprise. From that point, the formula more or less flips, and Aardvark fields Mouse’s questions (“Do I have to hide my eyes?”), posed on recto, in the negative after the page turn (“No. You must look at me”). The dialogue is color-coded (blue for Aardvark, black for Mouse) so that the speakers are clearly differentiated. The difference in height between the two animals and, thus, above-head text placement creates additional visual matching. The small word count (just over 50 words and their variants) and short sentences build in further supports for emerging readers. Set against a white background, Brunson’s cartoony characters appear in the same position from page to page and vary only in expression. An opening note suggests that the book be read by a pair of readers who each take on a character’s lines and share the reading experience.

A well-structured and deceptively simple dose of encouragement for emerging readers . (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7643-5691-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Schiffer

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.



From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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