THE ABOMINABLE SNOW TEACHER

Passen once again mines B-grade monster movies, as Irma Birnbaum—dubbed “the toughest teacher in town,” but “most obsessive” would be more like it—undergoes a third form- and character-altering transformation. School’s closed by snow, but Miss Birnbaum skis out to deliver homework, declaring, “I cannot let a day of education be wasted!” Not even a zap of electricity that turns her into a hairy monster stops her from assailing terrified children with test questions—until a mysterious whirlwind and a second zap cause her to lighten up. And, happily, shed the pelt. Portrayed as a formidable figure in pointy glasses and a towering gray beehive, Miss Birnbaum makes an intimidating figure even without the fur and paws. Her cheery closing proposal that the class build a snow fort rather than crack the books makes an object lesson in deceptive appearances—but Passen is recycling the same basic plotline, and children who have already met Miss Birnbaum in her previous incarnations may find it growing stale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8050-7379-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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