A playful, interactive story that will urge readers to be brave and turn the page.

READ REVIEW

THIS BOOK IS SPINELESS

The story begins on the front endpapers with the questions “What’s going on?” and “Can someone please turn on the lights?” Black pages then fade to gray in the first pages—evidently the light has been turned on.

The book (who also happens to be the narrator) then thanks readers because, it says, “I’m afraid of the dark.” It then goes on to reveal that it’s scared of most things because it’s “spineless” and has “absolutely no sense of adventure.” The book/narrator admits that it doesn’t like stories (because stories can be “scary”). The following pages are filled with tales that the book is terrified of: the sound of a ghost story, in which the ghosts wail and clank their chains; the sight of a mystery’s “pitch-black pathways and slinky shadows” (though it wonders whodunit); the “FEEL” of a space adventure, with “rumbling rockets and woozy weightlessness” (but the stars are nice); the “SMELL of a “whiffy wolverine or stinky skunk” in a nature story (maybe it could manage a bunny); or even the salty “TASTE” of a pirate story set upon the open seas. Leslie’s witty, fast-paced narrative and Brereton’s digital paintings work well together to create a self-referential narrative that introduces young readers to different literary genres, compositions cleverly including those story elements the book is not scared of, till by the end it seems to have grown a spine—maybe.

A playful, interactive story that will urge readers to be brave and turn the page. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62414-658-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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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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