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HELLO WORLD!

Less Oh, the Places You’ll Go and more “Oh, the people you will know.”

Cultivate interest not simply in the world, but also in the people who inhabit it.

Behind the facade of yet another picture book to hand to graduates lies a title with grander ambitions. A kid scooters off into the world to text that relates the wonders to come. Using the letter B (for no apparent reason) as a touchstone, the text catalogs everything from bobsledding to boredom. This is all well and good, but the true treasures come when one realizes, “There’s more to everyone than you think.” Readers are encouraged not merely to look and draw assumptions, but to ask people questions to learn more. Characters introduced early appear later with some context. A bicycling ballerina “misses her grandpa Benny,” and “the bully was bullied” (a sign held by a disembodied hand reads, “That’s how he learned to do it”). Even the endpapers get into the act, featuring balloons that sport questions like “What makes someone smart?” and “What’s the best gift you ever got?” This emphasis on humanity separates this title from books that offer empty aphorisms about getting through life. Meanwhile, the cheery art displays a Seussian sensibility but populates its hopeful world with lots of different kinds of people. The brown-skinned protagonist appears to be biracial, with a White-presenting mom and darker-brown-skinned dad who bid their offspring farewell on the first page. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.3-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 26% of actual size.)

Less Oh, the Places You’ll Go and more “Oh, the people you will know.” (Picture books. 4-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-20606-5

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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PETE THE CAT'S 12 GROOVY DAYS OF CHRISTMAS

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among

Pete, the cat who couldn’t care less, celebrates Christmas with his inimitable lassitude.

If it weren’t part of the title and repeated on every other page, readers unfamiliar with Pete’s shtick might have a hard time arriving at “groovy” to describe his Christmas celebration, as the expressionless cat displays not a hint of groove in Dean’s now-trademark illustrations. Nor does Pete have a great sense of scansion: “On the first day of Christmas, / Pete gave to me… / A road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” The cat is shown at the wheel of a yellow microbus strung with garland and lights and with a star-topped tree tied to its roof. On the second day of Christmas Pete gives “me” (here depicted as a gray squirrel who gets on the bus) “2 fuzzy gloves, and a road trip to the sea. / GROOVY!” On the third day, he gives “me” (now a white cat who joins Pete and the squirrel) “3 yummy cupcakes,” etc. The “me” mentioned in the lyrics changes from day to day and gift to gift, with “4 far-out surfboards” (a frog), “5 onion rings” (crocodile), and “6 skateboards rolling” (a yellow bird that shares its skateboards with the white cat, the squirrel, the frog, and the crocodile while Pete drives on). Gifts and animals pile on until the microbus finally arrives at the seaside and readers are told yet again that it’s all “GROOVY!”

Pete’s fans might find it groovy; anyone else has plenty of other “12 Days of Christmas” variants to choose among . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267527-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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HOLES

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this...

Sentenced to a brutal juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't commit, a wimpy teenager turns four generations of bad family luck around in this sunburnt tale of courage, obsession, and buried treasure from Sachar (Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger, 1995, etc.).

Driven mad by the murder of her black beau, a schoolteacher turns on the once-friendly, verdant town of Green Lake, Texas, becomes feared bandit Kissin' Kate Barlow, and dies, laughing, without revealing where she buried her stash. A century of rainless years later, lake and town are memories—but, with the involuntary help of gangs of juvenile offenders, the last descendant of the last residents is still digging. Enter Stanley Yelnats IV, great-grandson of one of Kissin' Kate's victims and the latest to fall to the family curse of being in the wrong place at the wrong time; under the direction of The Warden, a woman with rattlesnake venom polish on her long nails, Stanley and each of his fellow inmates dig a hole a day in the rock-hard lake bed. Weeks of punishing labor later, Stanley digs up a clue, but is canny enough to conceal the information of which hole it came from. Through flashbacks, Sachar weaves a complex net of hidden relationships and well-timed revelations as he puts his slightly larger-than-life characters under a sun so punishing that readers will be reaching for water bottles.

Good Guys and Bad get just deserts in the end, and Stanley gets plenty of opportunities to display pluck and valor in this rugged, engrossing adventure. (Fiction. 9-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 978-0-374-33265-5

Page Count: 233

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

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