It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender.


While he has no difficulty overcoming much larger and fiercer opponents in the boxing ring, the eponymous hero of this quirky collaboration may nonetheless struggle to find an appreciative audience.

Lalouche is a postman in late-19th-century Paris. Slight but strong, he enjoys his work, adores his pet finch, Geneviève, and appreciates his small apartment, even if it doesn’t have a view. Naturally, he is devastated when his superior informs him that he’s being replaced. Determined to find work, he responds to an advertisement for sparring partners, and the rest is history (though there’s a bit of mockery to endure before he triumphs). Luckily enough, the postal service’s new “fleet of electric autocars” don’t work out as expected, so by the happy ending, Lalouche is back to pounding the pavement and chatting with old friends on his regular route. Olshan’s understated text flows smoothly, with occasional French phrases that emphasize the continental charm of his offbeat narrative. Blackall’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations, meanwhile, combine exaggerated size differences and unusual angles with a collagelike style to create a gently humorous, old-fashioned, scrapbook feel. Illustrations of Lalouche’s opponents are particularly amusing, including those that decorate the endpapers. Blackall’s personal collection of pictures of old-time boxers apparently inspired Olshan’s narrative; though thoroughly accomplished, it nonetheless has a very adult feel.

It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86225-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.


If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)


From the Stink series , Vol. 8

Stink Moody, younger brother of Judy, hops into the spotlight with a common problem—and  one that’s a bit more unusual.

Stink would like to advance in his swimming lessons, but he’s afraid to put his face underwater and seems doomed to remain a Polliwog forever. Fortunately, he’s distracted from that issue by the sudden appearance around town—in some surprising places—of a whole lot of real frogs, a few of which are deformed. These frogs give McDonald the opportunity to offer a little information, through the voice of a nature-center guide, on how adverse environmental conditions can influence frog development. Stink memorizes a variety of frog sounds, enabling him to participate in a frog count at a local pond. Somehow, he becomes convinced that he’s turning into a frog himself, but that might just make it possible for him to swim underwater. Brief, cheery, oversized text and lot of cartoonish black-and-white illustrations (only some of which were available for review) make this a good choice for newly independent readers. A minor issue is that the text informs readers that it is early spring; even in Virginia, that’s a little early for Stink to be taking swimming lessons in an outdoor pool, as indicated in the illustrations.

Young readers with a fondness for amphibians will jump all over this one. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6140-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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