An affectionate and quirky offering, spot-on for beginning independent readers.

READ REVIEW

CHARLIE & MOUSE EVEN BETTER

“Mom is the best!”—and her birthday is just around the corner.

In four short chapters, Charlie and Mouse repeatedly one-up themselves as they arrive at better and even better ideas. The early reader opens on a familiar scene in which Mom makes pancakes for the kids. Charlie and Mouse enthusiastically offer suggestions for improvements on the pancakes, until Mom’s expression turns from cheer to exasperation and her humor becomes blunt. In the following sagas, the siblings shop for gifts, prepare decorations while Dad burns the cake, and split up to distract Mom just long enough for a backup special surprise. The standout second chapter captures the comical banter as the children consider what gifts Mom would like with the money they have to spend. They mull over buying her a box they would promise never to peek in but, knowing that they “like to snoop,” reject the idea in favor of a more practical one. Though previous titles in this series have identified the children as male, they are not referred to by any gendered pronouns and nothing about their illustrated appearance codes them as overtly masculine or feminine. They do appear to be biracial, with a white mom and Asian dad.

An affectionate and quirky offering, spot-on for beginning independent readers. (Early reader. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7065-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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