RABBIT’S WOOLY SWEATER

This first solo outing by the illustrator of The Wrong Overcoat (2000) is a wry tale with a familiar ring. When Aunty Ethel knits a new wool sweater for her, Rabbit staunchly refuses to wear it because Mr. Cuddles, her constant companion, doesn't have a matching one. Overruled by her pragmatic mother—“Mr. Cuddles doesn't need a woolly sweater . . . He has you to keep him warm”—Rabbit reluctantly dons the offending garment for her jaunt to the park. Yet with a wily determination, Rabbit finds a way to foil her mother's edict. As soon as she reaches the park, the sweater is abandoned, left on the ground to be trod upon and used as a soccer goal. Once home, Rabbit's mother immediately washes the muddied garment, with the inevitable results. Rabbit's once large sweater emerges from the wash small enough to fit her pint-sized pal—and with the capriciousness of youth—Rabbit decides she wants a sweater just like Mr. Cuddles'. Although parents may grimace at Rabbit's machinations, Birchall's simple tale resonates with young readers, who will recognize a kindred spirit in the mischievous Rabbit. For the real fun, Birchall's puckish illustrations, filled with messy details, steal the show. Rendered in a sparkling palette of hues, the playful watercolors contain a plethora of jokes designed to captivate and titillate young audiences: Mole's father dropping his ice cream on the sweater; Rabbit performing an awe-inspiring header that sends the mud-encased soccer ball straight into the sweater "goal." While perhaps not the most mannerly of stories, Birchall's delightfully naughty tale is good, er, clean fun. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-57505-465-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year.

LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE

From the Love Monster series

The surprised recipient of a box of chocolates agonizes over whether to eat the whole box himself or share with his friends.

Love Monster is a chocoholic, so when he discovers the box on his doorstep, his mouth waters just thinking about what might be inside; his favorite’s a double chocolate strawberry swirl. The brief thought that he should share these treats with his friends is easily rationalized away. Maybe there won’t be enough for everyone, perhaps someone will eat his favorite, or, even worse, leave him with his least favorite: the coffee one! Bright’s pacing and tone are on target throughout, her words conveying to readers exactly what the monster is thinking and feeling: “So he went into his house. And so did the box of chocolates…without a whisper of a word to anyone.” This is followed by a “queasy-squeezy” feeling akin to guilt and then by a full-tilt run to his friends, chocolates in hand, and a breathless, stream-of-consciousness confession, only to be brought up short by what’s actually in the box. And the moral is just right: “You see, sometimes it’s when you stop to think of others…that you start to find out just how much they think of you.” Monster’s wide eyes and toothy mouth convey his emotions wonderfully, and the simple backgrounds keep the focus on his struggle.

A treat to be savored—and a lesson learned—any time of year. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-00-754030-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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