PICTURES FROM OUR VACATION

Newbery-winner Perkins again displays her talent for picking out the telling details in ordinary activities—taking a young narrator and her family on a two-day drive to a now-unused farm for a rain-swept vacation capped by a general gathering of uncles, aunts and cousins. Though the child and her brother both try to record their experiences with disposable cameras, their snapshots capture far less than the thought balloons in which many of the low-key painted illustrations are framed. Perkins evokes both past and present by placing ghostly or fanciful memory images into placid scenes of passing roadside sights, local outings, rainy day living-room activities and views of people alone or chatting amiably in groups. “It’s hard to take a picture of a story someone tells, or what it feels like when you’re rolling down a hill,” the young narrator concludes. “But those kinds of pictures I can keep in my mind.” An outstanding choice for pre-vacation reading or for ruminative children at any time. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-085097-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

Categories:

THE ONE AND ONLY SPARKELLA AND THE BIG LIE

From the Sparkella series , Vol. 3

An awesome-tastic invitation to have or share thoughts about bad and better choices.

Actor Tatum’s effervescent heroine steals a friend’s toy and then lies about it.

Thrilled about an upcoming play date with new classmate Wyatt, Sparkella considers her own sparkly stuffies, games, and accessories and silently decides that he’d be more interested in her friend Tam’s remote-controlled minicar. While she and Tam are playing together, Sparkella takes the car when Tam isn’t looking. Tam melts down at school the next day, and Sparkella, seeing her “bestest friend” losing her sparkle, feels “icky, oogy, and blech.” And when Wyatt comes over, he turns out to be far more entranced by glittery goods than some old car. When Sparkella yells at him—“WYATT, YOU HAVE TO PLAY WITH THIS CAR RIGHT NOW!”—her dad overhears and asks where the toy came from…and along with being a thief, Sparkella turns out to be the worst. Liar. Ever. She eventually confesses (her dad forgives her), apologizes (ditto Wyatt and even Tam), and goes on to take part in a three-way play date/sparklefest. Her absolution may come with unlikely ease, but it’s comfortingly reassuring, and her model single dad does lay down a solid parental foundation by allowing that everyone makes mistakes and stressing that she is “never going to be punished for telling the truth in this house.” He and Sparkella present White, a previous entry cued brown-skinned Tam as Asian, and Wyatt has brown skin in Barnes’ candy-hued pictures. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An awesome-tastic invitation to have or share thoughts about bad and better choices. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9781250750778

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

DEAR BEAST

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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