TOO MANY VALENTINES

McNamara (One Hundred Days [Plus One], above) explores Valentine’s Day in this beginning easy reader, part of her Robin Hill School series set in a first-grade classroom. In this story a boy named Neil announces that he doesn’t want any Valentines because “Valentines are frilly! Valentines are pink!” He comes to regret his decision when all the other children are caught up in the Valentine celebrations, with lots of cards to examine for the rest of the day. Neil’s wise teacher respects his feelings, but then arranges for all the children to sign one Valentine, which is delivered to Neil at home. Some subtle lessons are artfully conveyed within the story: how it feels to stick with a decision to be different and how accommodations can sometimes be made to respect someone’s wishes and allow that person to save face. Teachers will use this as a read-aloud before Valentine’s Day to address the perennial problem of leaving someone off the Valentines list, and new readers will enjoy reading about Neil’s problem and its solution. Gordon’s humorous illustrations in watercolor and ink bring the first-graders to life, with funny little touches (a bird delivering Neil’s card, his cat with the stamp caught on its tongue). Successful easy readers with real stories, humor, and appealing illustrations are always in demand, and the kids of the Robin Hill School first grade seem poised to each star in their own story. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85538-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book....

YOU ARE MY PUMPKIN

Young children won't understand the metaphors but will appreciate the sentiment made clear by the repeated, Halloween-themed declarations of love in Wan's latest board book.

Each of the seven spreads presents an endearment illustrated by an object drawn with heavy outlines and just enough detail to invoke its essential characteristics. Lest it become too maudlin, between the “sugary, sweet candy corn” and a “purr-fect, cuddly kitty” is a “wild, messy monster.” Wan manages to make each drawing expressive and distinctive while relying on just a few shapes—crescents or circles for eyes, dots or ovals accenting cheeks. Although each spread stands alone, there are quiet connections. For example, the orange of the pumpkin is repeated in the candy corn, and the purple that adorns kitty's hat and bow becomes the prominent color on the next spread, setting off the friendly white ghost nicely. The same purple is used for the spider's body on the next to last spread. Subtle, shadowed backgrounds repeat the patterns found elsewhere in the book. For example, the background of the page with the kitty includes pumpkins, hearts, and hats and bows like the ones kitty is wearing.

While this is not an essential purchase, most little pumpkins will love being told, “Baby, I'm batty for you!” (Board book. 6 mos.-3)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-88092-3

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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The theme of friendship and loyalty endures in this enjoyable mock-horror tale for new readers.

FLY GUY AND THE FRANKENFLY

From the Fly Guy series , Vol. 13

“It was a dark and stormy night” as series fans find Fly Guy and Buzz hard at work in their 13th adventure.

Buzz and his insect buddy are playing. After an evening of making puzzles, trying on creepy costumes and admiring a drawing Buzz created featuring them both in their frighteningly fun garb, Buzz’s eyes get heavy and he climbs into bed. But Fly Guy is up to something—he is “BIZZY!” Buzz drops off into dreamland…or does he? A couple of page turns reveal Fly Guy on the verge of bringing a gigantic monster to life. A flip of an electrical switch sets the nightmare in motion. “Buzz cried, ‘It’s Frankenfly!’ ” The enormous, green creature responds to Buzz’s shout and shambles over to him. No surprise that Fly Guy comes to Buzz’s rescue just as the monster, more silly than menacing, picks him up. Morning comes with a fall out of bed to reveal the result of the project Fly Guy was determined to finish the previous night. Giggles and grape juice bring this latest installment to a satisfying close. All the while, Arnold’s deftly drawn cartoon expressions comically show the range of emotions as Buzz and Fly Guy experience fear, shock, bewilderment, determination and pride.

The theme of friendship and loyalty endures in this enjoyable mock-horror tale for new readers. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-49328-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cartwheel/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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