Nevertheless, this is a friendly introduction to a lighthearted aesthetic and an antidote to the belief that standards (in...

MR. FLUX

In this homage to the 20th-century art movement known as Fluxus, a boy named Martin resists the invitation of his artistic, bowler-hatted neighbor to embrace an unknown in his young life: change.

Taking his cues from the adults around him, he refuses Mr. Flux’s gift of a box of “change,” explaining that “change is upsetting, and we like things just the way they are.” But with Mr. Flux’s encouragement, Martin tries out a few new things and eventually comes to appreciate his neighbor’s fluid way of seeing art in other than the usual ways. Marcel Duchamps’ Fountain appears (on a pedestal!) on one page as an example of art that might not be recognized by people “busy making sure everything stayed the same.” Stephens’ angular, quirky and slightly abstract illustrations convey both the sense of play and the curious lenses for experience that the Fluxus movement celebrated. Maclear does not entirely avoid the pitfall of exhortation rather than inspiration, telling readers that changes take place in Martin’s life and neighborhood and stating that the “most surprising change was in people’s thinking” without further explanation.

Nevertheless, this is a friendly introduction to a lighthearted aesthetic and an antidote to the belief that standards (in art or anything else) are fixed or immutable. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55453-781-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children...

TOYS GALORE

A fizzy yet revealing romp through the toy world.

Though of standard picture-book size, Stein and illustrator Staake’s latest collaboration (Bugs Galore, 2012, etc.) presents a sweeping compendium of diversions for the young. From fairies and gnomes, race cars and jacks, tin cans and socks, to pots ’n’ pans and a cardboard box, Stein combs the toy kingdom for equally thrilling sources of fun. These light, tightly rhymed quatrains focus nicely on the functions characterizing various objects, such as “Floaty, bubbly, / while-you-wash toys” or “Sharing-secrets- / with-tin-cans toys,” rather than flatly stating their names. Such ambiguity at once offers Staake free artistic rein to depict copious items capable of performing those tasks and provides pre-readers ample freedom to draw from the experiences of their own toy chests as they scan Staake’s vibrant spreads brimming with chunky, digitally rendered objects and children at play. The sense of community and sharing suggested by most of the spreads contributes well to Stein’s ultimate theme, which he frames by asking: “But which toy is / the best toy ever? / The one most fun? / Most cool and clever?” Faced with three concluding pages filled with all sorts of indoor and outside toys to choose from, youngsters may be shocked to learn, on turning to the final spread, that the greatest one of all—“a toy SENSATION!”—proves to be “[y]our very own / imagination.”

Clever verse coupled with bold primary-colored images is sure to attract and hone the attention of fun-seeking children everywhere. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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