Miss Irma Birnbaum, “the toughest teacher in town” and star of Passen’s Attack of the 50-Foot Teacher (2000), returns in this hilarious end-of-the-school-year adventure. The story opens with an assignment: “Be prepared for a surprise,” says Miss Birnbaum, who sports a silver beehive hairdo and cat-eye glasses. The children think she’s planning a pop quiz. The truth is, she’s planning a party. But Miss Birnbaum is about to get a surprise of her own. That night, while preparing party food in the school cafeteria, Miss Birnbaum slips and falls “right into the prune pudding, kidney bean cookies, and brussels sprout juice.” Passen’s comical watercolors reveal Miss Birnbaum bathed in a golden glow. The knobby-kneed teacher has begun to shrink. Pretty soon, she can barely open the cafeteria door, and a trip to the library to find a cure reveals bookshelves as big as skyscrapers. Back in the classroom, a scary encounter with “Zippy” the class hamster (who’s now her equal in height) forces Miss Birnbaum to spend the night running on the wheel in his cage. Miss Birnbaum escapes in the morning but she’s almost crushed by the gigantic children who roam the hallway. Luckily, “Johnny O’Leary’s” lunch falls out of his backpack, his cupcake lands on Miss Birnbaum, and Johnny and friends discover the “yucky” stuff stuck in the icing is really their teacher. The students rush Miss Birnbaum to the principal’s office, where she returns to normal size after falling in the fish tank. With their teacher saved and pizza and cake replacing prune pudding at the party, the children are delighted. Expect the unexpected in this purely pleasurable tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8050-6452-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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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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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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