So can a girl rough it in ruffles? Silly question.

I'M GONNA CLIMB A MOUNTAIN IN MY PATENT LEATHER SHOES

A little girl takes all her feminine favorites on a camping trip.

Peppy Sadie, who has impossibly big red hair, narrates her adventure in bouncy iambic verse. “Today we’re going camping,” she declares, and lickety-split she starts packing. She’ll absolutely need her pink ballet costume, her patent leather shoes and her tiara, for starters. Even though Sadie’s decked out in frills, she can still help pitch the pup tent and help with other chores, like gathering huckleberries. Things go a bit amiss when a chipmunk makes off with the purple party bag that Sadie was using to gather the berries, and her white gloves get dirty. But no matter; Sadie’s imagination takes over. As she climbs the mountain in those patent leather shoes, she pictures herself capturing Bigfoot with her seven strings of pearls and swimming in the river in her flowered underwear. (She forgot her bathing suit.) That night, with only the campfire to illuminate them, Sadie pretends to protect the family from Bigfoot, played by her brother with a growl and a frown. Singer’s story crackles with humor and attitude, its driving rhythms making it an infectious read-aloud. Avril’s busy illustrations, using pastel chalk over a pencil outline, display a range of bright colors and have a slightly dreamy cast, as if they came right out of Sadie’s head.

So can a girl rough it in ruffles? Silly question. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0336-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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Aims high but falls flat.

WILD SYMPHONY

Through 20 short poems, Maestro Mouse invites readers to meet a series of animals who have lessons to impart and a symphony to perform.

Brown, author of The DaVinci Code (2003) and other wildly popular titles for adults, here offers young listeners a poetry collection accompanied by music: a “symphony” performed, for readers equipped with an audio device and an internet connection, by the Zagreb Festival Orchestra. From the introduction of the conductor and the opening “Woodbird Welcome” to the closing “Cricket Lullaby,” the writer/composer uses poems made of three to eight rhyming couplets, each line with four strong beats, to introduce the animals who will be revealed in the final double gatefold as the players in an all-animal orchestra. Each poem also contains a lesson, reinforced by a short message (often on a banner or signpost). Thus, “When life trips them up a bit, / Cats just make the best of it” concludes the poem “Clumsy Kittens,” which is encapsulated by “Falling down is part of life. The best thing to do is get back on your feet!” The individual songs and poems may appeal to the intended audience, but collectively they don’t have enough variety to be read aloud straight through. Nor does the gathering of the orchestra provide a narrative arc. Batori’s cartoon illustrations are whimsically engaging, however. They include puzzles: hard-to-find letters that are said to form anagrams of instrument names and a bee who turns up somewhere in every scene.

Aims high but falls flat. (Complete composition not available for review.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12384-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Rodale Kids

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation.

THE BEAR MUST GO ON

Four woodland animal friends put on a show.

Rabbit, Squirrel, and aptly named Other Squirrel (who has slightly redder fur than Squirrel) are a flurry of activity. They are going to put on a show. “A BIG show.…The BEST show!” It will have hats (tall ones), tickets (shiny ones), and a curtain (red—no, green). There are many decisions to be made. Bear, however, does not want to be part of it. He is too shy. He would prefer to be the note taker. Rabbit, Squirrel, and Other Squirrel fire off ideas, amending one another’s at furious speed, and Bear writes them all down. Scribbles appear in the white space surrounding the boulderlike ursine’s head. The ideas pile up; debut illustrator Todd deftly covers an entire page while Bear hunches in the middle, furiously writing. He hums a tune to keep himself calm. On the night of the performance, everything seems ready. Everything except…the show! They were so bogged down with the details, no one figured out what the show would be. The title gives away the ending from the very start, but Bear’s pluck is nevertheless laudable. Petty’s comedic quips are echoed in the frenzied art, with Bear looming large yet timid to ground it all. Limited, skilled use of panels helps to control the pacing.

A snort-inducing lesson of both bravery and preparation. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-3747-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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