THE BIG BROWN BOX

Russo (Mama Who Talks Too Much, 1999, etc) draws from family experience again for this domestic contretemps. Despite tears and parental pleas, Sam refuses to let little brother Ben join him in his washing machine box/house/cave/ship. Leave it to Mama to provide a solution satisfactory to all: another, smaller box placed alongside. Opposite text pages printed on fields of light, boxlike brown, Russo creates tidy, uncomplicated, graphic-style scenes of adults and children whose easily-read expressions map the story's emotional ups and downs. In the end, sharing a scenario in their individual spaces, both children happily blast off in their cardboard rockets to the Moon. Would that all such tempests would end so amicably. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 31, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17096-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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