THE PRESIDENT AND MOM’S APPLE PIE

This enjoyable tidbit of historical time will no doubt have kids remembering William Howard Taft, 27th president of the US, for at least one thing: his size (over 300 pounds) and his love for food, thanks to the jolly, rotund depictions of the balloon-shaped man. A young boy remembers the day in 1909 when President Taft came to his town to dedicate the new flagpole. The crowd cheered and the Firemen’s Band played when the train whooshed into the station and the portly president squeezed himself out the door. Before he reached the flagpole, he sniffed a wonderful aroma. It’s the spaghetti at Tony’s Italian Village, the boy responds and takes Taft there where he polishes off a giant plateful—but that’s not the aroma. Next, they try Big Ed’s Barbecue followed by Mrs. Wong’s Hunan Palace. Still not the right smell. Following his nose, Taft leads the parade of townspeople to Acacia Avenue, where the boy lives and his mom’s apple pie is cooling on the windowsill. Taft’s eagerness to taste the treat sends the pie sailing into the air, but the boy catches it, saves the day and the pie for the president to eat. Though fictional, the story could have happened, as two paragraphs on the back of the title page provide context and profile Taft. The colorful, playful illustrations capture the energy of the comical situation and effective double-page spreads are backdrops of small-town life with Taft’s figure dominating the pages surrounded by round-faced, rosy-cheeked people. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46887-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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