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Skeeter

A unique take on the Romeo and Juliet theme with appealing cartoon mosquitos, but its text will likely confuse young readers...

Screenwriter Lannini (Letters to My Angels, Wikki and Blue, 2014) tackles a timeless tale of star-crossed lovers as a mosquito who can turn into a human tries to make peace between her human lover and mosquito family in this screenplaylike children’s picture-book debut.

Mosquito general Tazzi and his wife, Heeleen—the village’s greatest warrior—are delighted to welcome their daughter, Skeeter, into the world. But after a storm, they’re shocked to find that their child has been replaced by a human baby. They soon discover that Skeeter changes into a human girl during hot, dry weather. As an adult, she’s still fascinated by the human side of her nature, and during a period of exploring life as a human, she falls in love with a man named Martin. Later, as a mosquito, she bites her human rival for Martin’s affections, and she tries to convince her parents that she’s as much a human as she is one of their kind. At first, Martin seems to take her condition in stride, but then he decides that he can’t marry a part-time human, leaving Skeeter heartbroken. However, when a group of humans threatens Skeeter’s village, Martin comes through to help save them. The premise of this book is more about identity politics than romance: Skeeter’s desire to become permanently human is certainly driven by her love, but her quest to understand both sides of her nature—and make peace between humans and mosquitos—is also a strong theme. The book’s format leaves much to be desired, though, as it’s more like a storyboard for an animated feature than a simple picture book. The illustrations, with their stylized mosquitos and fun shrinking and growing effects, stand on their own, but the text seems like a synopsis with dialogue added: “In DR. GEEZE’s lab. SKEETER: DR. GEEZE, I want to tell you a secret…I think I’m in love. GEEZE: In love? With whom?” The text is also oddly formatted around the illustrations, sometimes in two or three columns, in order to fit on the pages.

A unique take on the Romeo and Juliet theme with appealing cartoon mosquitos, but its text will likely confuse young readers who are unfamiliar with storyboards and screenplays.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5049-5347-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2016

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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