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THE APPLE PIE THAT PAPA BAKED

You can always tell when the cooks have added a special touch of TLC to a recipe. In this case, a could-have-been standard cumulative tale of a fatherly farmer collecting apples and baking a pie is made extraordinary by its fine folk art/folksong sensibilities, its particularly appetizing apple-pie palette of crusty golden-brown, buttery cream, apple-red and cast-iron black and by the artist’s inspired use of line. Bean’s art, which he acknowledges is “strongly influenced by the work of Virginia Lee Burton and Wanda Gag,” is a lively and life-full song of its own, an organic and curvilinear concoction in which circles of visual narrative build upon each other just as Thompson’s toothsome text builds upon itself, until readers are cuddled up in a homespun, apple-shaped embrace. Thompson again proves herself a master of mixing up a treat—warm, sweet and satisfying; Bean, who explains his multi-step creative process in a note, is someone to watch. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4169-1240-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2007

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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BECAUSE YOUR DADDY LOVES YOU

Give this child’s-eye view of a day at the beach with an attentive father high marks for coziness: “When your ball blows across the sand and into the ocean and starts to drift away, your daddy could say, Didn’t I tell you not to play too close to the waves? But he doesn’t. He wades out into the cold water. And he brings your ball back to the beach and plays roll and catch with you.” Alley depicts a moppet and her relaxed-looking dad (to all appearances a single parent) in informally drawn beach and domestic settings: playing together, snuggling up on the sofa and finally hugging each other goodnight. The third-person voice is a bit distancing, but it makes the togetherness less treacly, and Dad’s mix of love and competence is less insulting, to parents and children both, than Douglas Wood’s What Dads Can’t Do (2000), illus by Doug Cushman. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 23, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-00361-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2005

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