An adorable story that teaches readers that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

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STELLA ENDICOTT AND THE ANYTHING-IS-POSSIBLE POEM

From the Tales from Deckawoo Drive series , Vol. 5

On the first day of second grade, Stella Endicott meets her new teacher, Ms. Tamar Calliope Liliana, whom she wants very much to impress—and so does the annoying boy at the desk next to hers.

During the second week of school, Stella’s class is assigned to write a poem that includes a metaphor. After school, Stella visits her friend Mercy Watson the pig. She cuddles up close to Mercy on the couch and begins to write. Stella eagerly writes about Mercy, the sound of the neighbor’s accordion, and leaves that fall balletically from the tree outside. She is so excited about her poem that when know-it-all Horace Broom asks if he can read it, Stella doesn’t hesitate to share. Horace immediately begins to pick it apart, scornfully informing her, “Pigs don’t sit on couches, they live on farms.” Angry, Stella loudly defends her poem. The two argue, and Ms. Liliana sends them to see Mr. Tinwiddie, the principal. It is this sentence that forces Stella to act using “courage” and “curiosity,” resources she draws on to encourage Horace, who is so afraid by the expected dressing-down that he runs out of the office and into more trouble than either of them thought possible. The academic setting, imaginative Stella, and brown-noser Horace combine for an ideal opportunity for DiCamillo to exercise her characteristic wordplay. Stella is biracial (black/white), Ms. Liliana appears black, and Horace presents white.

An adorable story that teaches readers that things—and people—are not always what they seem. (Fiction. 6-9 )

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0180-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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What a wag.

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DOG MAN

What do you get from sewing the head of a smart dog onto the body of a tough police officer? A new superhero from the incorrigible creator of Captain Underpants.

Finding a stack of old Dog Man comics that got them in trouble back in first grade, George and Harold decide to craft a set of new(ish) adventures with (more or less) improved art and spelling. These begin with an origin tale (“A Hero Is Unleashed”), go on to a fiendish attempt to replace the chief of police with a “Robo Chief” and then a temporarily successful scheme to make everyone stupid by erasing all the words from every book (“Book ’Em, Dog Man”), and finish off with a sort of attempted alien invasion evocatively titled “Weenie Wars: The Franks Awaken.” In each, Dog Man squares off against baddies (including superinventor/archnemesis Petey the cat) and saves the day with a clever notion. With occasional pauses for Flip-O-Rama featurettes, the tales are all framed in brightly colored sequential panels with hand-lettered dialogue (“How do you feel, old friend?” “Ruff!”) and narrative. The figures are studiously diverse, with police officers of both genders on view and George, the chief, and several other members of the supporting cast colored in various shades of brown. Pilkey closes as customary with drawing exercises, plus a promise that the canine crusader will be further unleashed in a sequel.

What a wag. (Graphic fantasy. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-58160-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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