An informative environmental tale with a few rough spots.

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A FISH CALLED BAD EYES

In this chapter book, a myopic fish gets a pair of glasses, which allows him to become an ambassador on behalf of his species and his reef.

Bad Eyes, a fish with poor eyesight, swims with his school of Manini (also known as surgeonfish) around their home reef in Hawaii. Having bad eyesight is dangerous in this environment because of the many predators that catch and eat Manini. Swimming nearer the surface one day, Bad Eyes encounters humans: a girl, Marsha, exploring the reef with her marine biologist father in a boat. When her glasses fall off, they somehow attach themselves to Bad Eyes. To his amazement, he can now see clearly. Marsha dives in with her snorkeling gear and, miraculously, can talk telepathically to Bad Eyes. She wants to be friends and gives the glasses to him as a gift. Bad Eyes With Glasses—his new name—becomes a protector for his school, negotiating with barracudas, sharks, octopuses, groupers, and other animals; he learns much more about them and passes on important information, such as how to escape a gill net. The assorted reef populations vow to cooperate and protect themselves. Meanwhile, Marsha and her father work to halt human activities like the nets that badly damage fish and reefs. The volume leaves off hinting at more escapades to come. In his children’s book, Golicz (BE ALONE WITH ME, 2016) effectively combines adventure with ecological facts about ocean dwellers. Morey the Eel, for example, explains to Bad Eyes that he lives “by eating you and any fool, weak, or dead fish, snail, crab, lobster, or cucumber” that drifts by. The character of Marsha allows kids to identify with the story—which is never preachy—and think about what they could do to help preserve ocean reefs and wildlife. But dialogue can be stiff (for example, “Marsha, I’m not sure about your feelings, but you are without any danger from a schooling reef fish”), and Bad Eyes’ various encounters are very similar. While the uncredited black-and-white illustrations give the fish expressive faces, they clumsily combine photographs and drawings.

An informative environmental tale with a few rough spots.

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4834-7886-9

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

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A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath...

GREGORY AND THE GRIMBOCKLE

In this debut middle-grade novel, a lonely boy finds friendship and learns about the magic of human connection.

Defined by the large mole on his lip, 10-year-old Gregory has grown distant from his family. He is friendless and withdrawn. Then one night a strange little creature emerges from Gregory’s mole. It is riding a (quite lovable) cockroach and can change size. This is the Grimbockle. The Grimbockle—one of many Bockles, who, like Palmer Cox’s Brownies, live at the peripheries of human awareness—tends to the exoodles that bind people together. Exoodles are long, transparent, noodlelike threads and are usually invisible. Once Gregory has his eyeballs painted with Carrot Juicy, though, he can see them. He joins the Grimbockle and the roach, traveling the exoodles as if on a high-speed roller coaster. Exoodles wither and die when people don’t look after their relationships. The Grimbockle is trying to repair a particularly sickly exoodle that links a boy to his mother. Can Gregory help—and can he mend the exoodles in his own life? Schubert follows delightedly in the footsteps of Roald Dahl, opening her unfortunate young protagonist’s eyes to a previously unseen world both weird and wondrous (yet for all its outlandish magic, oddly logical). The scenario is one of riotous imagination, while the Grimbockle himself—brought sweetly to life in black-and-white illustrations by Kraft—is a sprightly and good-natured little person, full of the type of singsong infelicities found in Dahl’s beloved nonhuman characters: “Is you ever seeing glimpses of squiggles in the corners of your twinklers but then they is disappearing in a snippety blink?” “ ‘Exoodles!’ shouted the Grimbockle in triumph. ‘Sometimes, hoo-mans is getting so twisty and wound up in extra exoodles that they is feeling gloomy blue and heavy all day long.’ ” The story is perhaps too much of a parable to fully match Dahl’s template; the adventure is safer and the threats less dark. Nonetheless, readers should fall willingly and with thrilled abandon into the fizzy, fanciful world of Gregory and his Grimbockle friend.

A beautifully realized daydream; a fun yet thoughtful exploration of the complexities and possibilities hidden beneath surface appearances.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9911109-3-3

Page Count: 153

Publisher: New Wrinkle Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

The Lost Little Rabbit

A lost bunny searches for his mother in this debut picture book.

The youngster is already lost in the beginning of Lakhiani’s version of the time-honored tale of a lost child reuniting witha parent. On a foggy day, a young rabbit finds that he doesn’t recognize where he is. He calls for his mother, but instead of her voice in response, he hears the hum of a bumblebee. The nameless little rabbit asks if the bee knows where his home is, but the bee doesn’t and sends him on to the wise owl, who “sees everything.” As the little rabbit runs through the “eerie” fog toward the owl’s tree, he meets a kind squirrel. “I’ve lost my mother….I am lost and scared,” explains the little rabbit. The squirrel leads the rabbit to the wise owl’s tree, which the rabbit climbs to ask the owl, “[C]an you see where I live?” The fog is too thick for the owl to spot little rabbit’s home, so he gives the little rabbit a snack and invites him to rest. Falling asleep, the little rabbit dreams of his mother but is awakened by the hooting, buzzing and chattering of his three new friends. Looking around, he sees his mother, who embraces him: “I will never again let you out of my sight,” she tells him. The digitized art by Adams, some of which is credited to Thinkstock, is in a cartoon style that clearly delineates the characters but includes a few anthropomorphic details—a graduation cap for the owl, spectacles for the squirrel and only four legs for the bee—that add little value. Since the story centers on the little rabbit failing to recognize where he is, the choice to make the right-hand page of every spread identical is potentially confusing; regardless, it’s repetitious. The text fails in the opposite direction: It doesn’t create the typical patterns that can help toddlers follow the story, build anticipation and learn to chime in—steps on the path to reading alone. Erratic rhythms, changing stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, and awkward syntax undercut attempts to enliven the tale with poetry.

A story with a tried-and-true plot that needs to freshen up its presentation.

Pub Date: May 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491895603

Page Count: 24

Publisher: AuthorHouseUK

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

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