DIRT CHEAP

A kid entrepreneur sells dirt to finance a snazzy new soccer ball.

An interactive narrator introduces and talks with Birdie, a youngster peering at a newspaper through oversized yellow spectacles. When the narrator asks what Birdie is looking at, the kid flips the paper around to show an ad for the XR1000 Super Extreme Soccer Ball. Short the $24.95 needed to purchase the “beautiful” ball, Birdie takes the narrator’s recommendation that a yard sale may garner the necessary funds. The yard sale turns out to be a bad business model (low market demand) so Birdie brainstorms something else: a literal yard sale. Birdie starts selling dirt from the yard for 25 bucks a sack. Still no customers. When Birdie marks down the price to 25 cents—and starts advertising “dirt cheap cheap dirt”—the coins finally roll in. Birdie uses the hard-earned money to buy the soccer ball. But what use is the ball if there is no longer a lawn to play soccer on? Hoffmann cleverly intertwines early math skills with messages of working toward goals and problem-solving. Readers will learn alongside Birdie different ways to add up change. Birdie’s approachable, can-do attitude plays well off the narrator-knows-best tone to create some genuine comedy. The gently absurd illustrations offer a lush suburban landscape, expressive scenes, and racially diverse neighbors; Birdie has pale skin and black pigtails.

Worth it, dirt and all. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1994-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

ON THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale.

YOU ARE (NOT) SMALL

From the You Are (Not) Small series

Fuzzy, bearlike creatures of different sizes relate to one another in an amusing story that explores the relative nature of size.

A small purple creature meets a similarly shaped but much larger orange critter. The purple creature maintains that the orange creature is “big”; the orange one counters by calling the purple one “small.” This continues, devolving into a very funny shouting match, pages full of each type of creature hollering across the gutter. This is followed by a show-stopping double-page spread depicting two huge, blue legs and the single word “Boom!” in huge display type. Tiny, pink critters then float down by parachute, further complicating the size comparisons. Eventually, these brightly colored animals learn to see things in a different way. In the end, they decide they are all hungry and trudge off to eat together. The story is told effectively with just a few words per page, though younger readers might need help understanding the size and perspective concepts. Cartoon-style illustrations in ink and watercolor use simple shapes with heavy black outlines set off by lots of white space, with an oversized format and large typeface adding to the spare but polished design. While the story itself seems simple, the concepts are pertinent to several important social issues such as bullying and racism, as well as understanding point of view.

Charming characters, a clever plot and a quiet message tucked inside a humorous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4772-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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