Sweet, warm, friendly, unique and utterly readable.


J.D.'s Scratch Match

Some problems aren’t what you think they are, as this quietly humorous picture book illustrates.

J.D.’s got a problem: There’s a mouse scratching in his wall, and it’s keeping him awake at night. First, he consults a pet-store owner, who offers him a cat to get rid of the mouse. But the cat starts scratching, too! After the next sleepless night, J.D. calls a dogcatcher. “Maybe the dogcatcher can help me. He catches animals all day long.” The dogcatcher has a fantastical robot—sure to please detail-loving young kids—and promises to rid J.D. of the mouse. But the robot makes scratching noises, too! J.D. flees the house in desperation, followed closely by the mouse, who wants to explain that he was just sweeping his home, not scratching, and is done making noise now. Problem solved—no cat or complicated robot necessary. It’s just absurd enough for young audiences to enjoy. Gabriele (Sofia’s Backwards Day, 2012, etc.) uses language that is natural, simple and a pleasure to read out loud. Jones’ illustrations suit the tenor of the story to a T and add quirky details, like the line of owls that grows outside J.D.’s window as the drama unfolds. The story isn’t entirely satisfying, however: As soon as J.D. picks up the cat, it looks pretty obvious where the book is headed: down the road of other funny, cumulative folk stories and songs (think “The House that Jack Built” and “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly”). But J.D. tries just two scratch-eradicating solutions before his problem solves itself. Since three seems to be the magic number in literature (and the bare minimum needed for a cumulative story, right?), the book feels unfinished, like it got just two-thirds of the way there. In the end, J.D., the mouse and the cat tuck themselves in and go to sleep. And, like a little mouse scratching at the wall, there’s a niggling question: That’s it? No twist? No little wink at the reader? It’s too bad. It would have been a nice cap to an otherwise enjoyable book.

Sweet, warm, friendly, unique and utterly readable.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985608200

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Mirambel Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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