THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL

It’s June 4th at Albert E. Chapman Elementary, and time to bring the school year to an end. Third-grader Matthew Perez has a goodbye gift for his teacher, Mrs. Mallory, but nerves and multiple interruptions delay the giving till the end of the day. The story introduces a nice cross-section of students, a crazy group of cafeteria workers and a friendly classroom hamster named Rhoda. Borden’s prose is accomplished but accessible: The narrative resembles free verse, several stanzas to a page. Many of these crisply depict images from the year that Matthew or Mrs. Mallory will carry with them through the summer months: The giant lollipops that sit in a mug on the school secretary’s desk, the classroom clock that scratches the minutes by, the BZZZZZZZ of the final final bell. Gustavson’s realistic illustrations resemble oil paintings, and include many evocative details. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-689-86869-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2006

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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THE RECESS QUEEN

Positing that bullies only act that way because they’re lonely, O’Neill (Loud Emily, 1998) puts seemingly meek, new classmate Katie Sue up against aggressive Mean Jean, swaggering boss of the playground. Knowing but one way to deal with challengers (“she’d push ’em and smoosh ’em, / lollapaloosh ’em, / hammer ’em, slammer ’em, / kitz and kajammer ’em . . .”), Mean Jean roughly tries to set Katie Sue straight on the pecking order. But Katie Sue stands up to her with a cheeky, “How DID you get to be so bossy?” and pulls out a jump rope, inviting Mean Jean to jump along. Presto change-o, a friendship is born. Huliska-Beith’s (The Book of Bad Ideas, 2000, etc.) rubbery-limbed figures, rolling perspectives, and neon-bright colors reflect the text’s informality as well as its frenzied energy. Though the suggested strategy works far more easily here than it would in real life, young readers will be caught up by Katie Sue’s engaging, fizzy exuberance. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-20637-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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