TROUBLE ON THE TRACKS

Mallat (Brave Bear, 1999) plays with the viewer’s perception of scale in this brief but eventful train ride. “Next stop, Black Paw Crossing!” calls the conductor, and the train chugs off, blowing its whistle as it passes greenery and waving villagers. Suddenly, two huge eyes (one on each of double pages) in an inky black face signal “Trouble on the tracks!” Trouble the cat, that is, who saunters away through the suddenly small trees and houses, leaving the derailed train, now seen to be a model, for its full-sized young “engineer” to put to rights. In magic marker and colored-pencil illustrations, Mallat gives her figurines inconspicuous flat bases from the beginning, a clue that is likely to elude children and adults alike at first pass, despite a heavy hint in the flap copy. Fans of Van Allsburg’s Bad Day at Riverbend (1995) or David Macaulay’s classic Black and White (1990), as well as young trainiacs, will want repeated rides. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8027-8771-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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ON MEADOWVIEW STREET

While her father mows the lawn at her new house, Caroline wonders how it could actually reflect the street’s name. Soon she finds a small blossom growing in the grass, then another, and eventually persuades Dad to sell the mower while the yard grows freely with wildflowers. Adding a maple tree and a man-made pond attracts an assortment of wildlife from birds, to insects, to a mud turtle and a meadow mouse. Neighbors are encouraged to follow suit, creating meadow environments rather than pristine lawns. Full-color acrylic paintings in double-paged spreads of multiple shades of green, dotted with hues of summer flowers, tell this nature-lover’s story which suggests the possibility of chemical-free garden environments. Though the message will be missed by young children, most will enjoy a final rendering of all the meadow creatures next to their proper names that now live on Meadowview Street. Gentle persuasion for the naturalist in everyone. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-056481-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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