In a decade of de rigueur picture books praising books, it is primarily the artwork that sets this one apart.

THE GOOD LITTLE BOOK

When a boy heads to the study, ordered to “think things over,” he begins a relationship with a book that becomes special to him, even if it has no “proper jacket.”

When the boy—initially sporting a scowl and a slouch—first opens the good little book, Arbona presents a compelling, sequential, aerial view of a sullen child who nonetheless becomes fascinated by reading. Vivid, fantastical artwork augments the ensuing, almost obligatory sentences about book-induced trips to faraway places and varied emotions. As the seasons pass, the book “didn’t turn him into a bookish boy, or improve his naughty behavior, but it did become a loyal companion.” At the story’s climax—“The boy lost his favorite book”—the boy seeks help in a crowd of people who appear as bizarre as the creatures in his book, thanks to the bold, colorful, absurdist artwork. It is easy to imagine an actor with an upper-class British accent reading the wryly humorous text: “The boy sought help but discovered that very few people have time for a lost book—no matter how good or little it might be.” The simple plot reaches a conclusion rife with bibliophilic didacticism, but the humor and art along the way create an enjoyable romp.

In a decade of de rigueur picture books praising books, it is primarily the artwork that sets this one apart. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-77049-451-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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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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This book offers a fine mirror for brown boys who aspire to write, but it’s also a great pro-literacy story for all children...

A SQUIGGLY STORY

A positive tale of how a story can emerge organically from an inkling of an idea to an imaginative literary excursion—even at the hands of preliterate kids.

This story’s young, brown-skinned male protagonist admires his big sister, who loves to read and write “BIG words and (little) words, page after page.” But with just his “swirl after swirl. Squiggle after squiggle,” he thinks he can’t write a story. Like any good writing coach, his sister tells him: “Write what you KNOW.” Using letters and squiggles, he writes about a visit to the ocean, where he and his sister play soccer, see waves, and encounter a shark. His story looks like this: “I o U …. VvVVvv ^.” During show and tell at school, he shares his draft and gets feedback, which helps him finish the story. Lowery’s line drawings and use of frames and speech bubbles common in comics make this a lively story that keeps readers guessing. He paints the protagonist’s story in progress in pale green, bringing the child’s imagination to life. The story’s ending suggests a sequel—or several—that will perhaps illustrate the protagonist’s growth as both reader and writer.

This book offers a fine mirror for brown boys who aspire to write, but it’s also a great pro-literacy story for all children about brown kids who hold reading and writing in high regard. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-77138-016-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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