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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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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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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