In this thematic poetry collection, noted anthologist Hopkins (Home to Me: Poems Across America, 2002, etc.) has selected 20 simple, humorous poems about children’s pets for this addition to the I Can Read series. The selections include both common pets (dogs, cats, birds, and goldfish) and more unusual ones (a purple snake, a tarantula, and a hedgehog). Poems from well-known writers such as Karla Kuskin, X. J. Kennedy, and Aileen Fisher are included, along with several works by Hopkins himself. All the poems rhyme except one, with the text of the poetry printed in large type and with extra line spacing to assist new readers. Many of the poems are set against pastel backgrounds incorporated into double-paged spreads, which works well, but with several poems, part of the text is set against a darker portion of the illustration, a distraction for beginning readers. Manning (Drip, Drop, 2000, etc.) provides a cast of appealing animals and cute children with stylized, elongated eyes, and she focuses on both playful action scenes and more introspective moments between child and pet. The artist includes children of all ethnicities in her illustrations, and she chooses a spunky little girl as the owner of a pet tarantula. In an amusing subtlety, children often sport haircuts or clothes that echo the physical features of their pet in a gentle hint at the old concept of shared identity. An index of authors and titles is included, although a contents page is not, which seems to put the bibliographic cart before the horse. (Easy reader/poetry. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-029111-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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