THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES

A fairly ho-hum rhymed version of the Andersen tale, almost saved by whimsical and sly illustrations by the empress of crackle-glaze and skewed perspective herself. Says the king, who is a lion of course, albeit one who walks upright, “What I need, I do declare, / is a brand new suit of clothes to wear. / Clothes to make my people see / what a fine king they have in me!” When two weasel tailors appear, and announce they can make those clothes and enspell them so that they can only be seen by the wise, even children who don’t know the story will see through these rascals. Jay’s figures, as always have large gently rounded bodies and small heads and limbs, and her pictures are full of beautiful details, elegant small objects, window vistas, and landscapes. The inherent humor in seeing a tortoise walking upright with the gold key of his office round his neck or a nervous piggy valet culminates in the final panel, where a small frog who tells the truth exposes the undressed lion rampant. He isn’t very naked, of course, being a lion, but his favorite royal object, a hand-held mirror (reflective side down) is strategically placed. (Picture book/fairytale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8118-4569-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2004

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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