Gently clever.

READ REVIEW

ROOM ON OUR ROCK

This poetic picture book reads forward and backward, revealing two narratives about sharing and welcoming. 

“This rock is ours,” declares a trio of seals. But what does “ours” really mean? Washy, blue and gray illustrations of a watery landscape span full spreads as a group of gently anthropomorphized seals confronts an outsider seal and its pup. Pops of color include green sprigs, pink sea stars, and yellow beaks and feet on observing sea gulls. The seals’ facial expressions feel a little mismatched with the text in the first read—perhaps as a result of the challenge of creating two narratives with one set of illustrations and words. The initial front-to-back reading witnesses the group of seals shooing the seal-and-pup pair away even though the duo has nowhere to go. The final page reads: “No room on this rock? Can it be true? / Read back to front for another point of view.” Reading the book backward, readers find a story of welcoming using the same text in reverse. For one-on-one sharing or a read-aloud with an engaged group of children, the chance to re-explore the book from back to front to derive different meaning is an opportunity for playful reflection. Large, simple black text throughout employs italics for direct emphasis. The narrative around sharing and welcoming can be scaled for diverse age groups.

Gently clever. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61067-902-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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UNICORN WINGS

The can’t-miss subject of this Step into Reading series entry—a unicorn with a magic horn who also longs for wings—trumps its text, which is dry even by easy-reader standards. A boy unicorn, whose horn has healing powers, reveals his wish to a butterfly in a castle garden, a bluebird in the forest and a snowy white swan in a pond. Falling asleep at the edge of the sea, the unicorn is visited by a winged white mare. He heals her broken wing and she flies away. After sadly invoking his wish once more, he sees his reflection: “He had big white wings!” He flies off after the mare, because he “wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ ” Perfectly suiting this confection, Silin-Palmer’s pictures teem with the mass market–fueled iconography of what little girls are (ostensibly) made of: rainbows, flowers, twinkly stars and, of course, manes down to there. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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