KATYA'S BOOK OF MUSHROOMS

Field guide, fact book, and diary of a mushroom-hunter gather under one umbrella. A first-person narrative, peppered with anecdotes of mushroom-collecting trips in the wild, brings to light the strange and surprising fungi that grow in backyards, snowbanks, and water, even in cars and carpets. A mushroom fanatic since her childhood in Moscow, Arnold (Baba Yaga, 1993) includes the standards—basic types, folk names, and scientific labels, identification tips and charts, pests, and habitats, including the mushroom's unusual partnership with trees. While Arnold enthusiastically promotes mushroom hunting, she and Swope caution readers repeatedly about the dangers of poisonous varieties. The history and origin of mushrooms, as well as religious and therapeutic aspects, are touched on in miscellaneous captions. Kids will relish the blunt descriptions—the red juice tooth is likened to ``a piece of cheese with drops of blood''; the Latin name for puffball means ``wolf fart.'' Other mushroom oddities are also sure to engross. Alternating illustrative styles shift between humorous depictions of a puffball-stomping child or a truffle-hunting wild-eyed pig and the more delicate, sedate renderings of velvety mushroom varieties. From the animal-shaped fungi to the spore-printed endpapers, Arnold's lifelong passion for her subject will make mushroom fanciers out of even the mycologically reluctant. (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-4136-2

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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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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