Good both for classroom explorations of metaphors and for inspiring imaginative play.

HALFWAY WILD

As they move through their day, a busy family changes skin, fur, and feathers.

Buzzing and tumbling out of bed, they are a family of bumblebees, the boy in the bottom bunk sporting delicate wings, while his sister in the top is almost wholly bee—pajama top and bottom are visible, but just barely, beneath a fuzzy bee body, and she has antennae and wings. By the turn of the page, the siblings have morphed into moose, the brother’s antlers helping his sister in her climb to reach the sugary cereal. Some of Freudig’s metaphors work better than others, and similarly, some of Barry’s detailed, realistic illustrations include more animal parts, other less: “When our socks sag and our pants are wrinkled, we’re a family of TURTLES,” shows the two sleepy, sluggish children getting dressed, the girl upside down in her turtle shell, but when they eat spicy food and cool the fire with water, they (inexplicably) sport the heads of foxes. Other transformations include puffins, squirrels, ducks, ants, sea gulls, seals, field mice, fireflies, skunks, raccoons, and bears. The mother, father, and grandmother sometimes get into the act, as well, the grandmother delighted to join in the puddle-stomping of her duck grandchildren, all three with white wings and orange webbed feet. Dad’s white with curly red hair, while mom looks East Asian.

Good both for classroom explorations of metaphors and for inspiring imaginative play. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-934031-48-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Islandport Press

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart.

THE MAGICIAN'S HAT

New England Patriot and literacy advocate Mitchell proves to have a touch of magic as an author as well as on the field.

It’s Family Fun Day at the library, and families of many sizes, constellations, and skin tones are participating. Amid book scavenger hunts and storytelling, a magician arrives. He is white and lanky, sporting a purple polka-dot vest and a bright yellow ascot. But most importantly, he has a very large, mysterious hat. He tells the children how he came to Family Fun Day when he was younger and read his very first book about magic in the library. Turning the pages and getting lost in the words inspired him to become a magician. He realized that it wasn’t just about spells and potions, but that books themselves are magical. Three children reach into the hat and find books about their future professions—Amy, a white girl, is a dentist; Matt, a bespectacled black boy, is a football player; and Ryan, a white boy, is an astronaut. The magician then turns the hat to readers, asking, “What are your dreams?” Previously self-published, the work gets a new look from Lew-Vriethoff’s bustling library and bright swirls of magic and bookish motivation. As an entry in the books-are-awesome genre, it’s mostly distinguished by the author’s clear belief in his message.

Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11454-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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