A bubbly, surprising caper that will undoubtedly entertain young readers.

THAT SUMMER WE STOLE OUR PERMANENT RECORDS

Niebruegge’s (The Zonderling, 2015, etc.) children’s novel tells a tale of buried treasure, forbidden history, and youthful mischief.

Becky Dulles has just received the worst news of her life: Franklin D. Roosevelt Elementary School is going to close due to budget cuts, which means she’ll be transferred to a totally new school! Even worse, she and her friends, known as the Sherlock Pines Gang, will almost certainly be separated as a result. And there’s another problem that needs immediate attention: It turns out that everyone’s permanent records will be handed over to the new schools, making it impossible for the Gang to hide anything they’ve done in the past that’s “kinda, sorta, maybe naughty.” They hatch a plan steal their permanent records, but avoiding the watchful eye of their principal, Mrs. Parish, is no easy feat. As the friends work together to pilfer the documents, they unexpectedly stumble upon a treasure map that holds a dark secret about the school’s past. Could it be the real reason behind its closure? The Gang set out on a new mission to find the treasure and uncover the controversial mystery. The prose style has a youthful tone throughout, as the author captures the often vivid imaginations of adolescents: “we completed the next step of the mission—memorizing a bunch of top secret code names to use during Operation Parish Stinks.” Becky and her friends are instantly lovable, and it’s hard not to laugh out loud at their antics, as the dialogue is chock-full of witty jokes and sarcasm: “A riot nearly broke out last year when everyone discovered that most of the pizzas were covered in vegetables. Vegetables!” As the plot zips along, the story occasionally pauses to reflect on historical events, lending the lively, spirited narrative a refreshing bit of grown-up flair.

A bubbly, surprising caper that will undoubtedly entertain young readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9908710-9-5

Page Count: 171

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2018

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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