The Adventures of the Salamander - Book I - or - Slippy & the Sequence of Spontaneous Setbacks

In this new author-illustrated children’s series, a young amphibian struggles to save his home and sees the world in the process.
Slippy the Salamander lives a peaceful, protected life in Salamander Village, until a band of dastardly lizards arrives, intent on taking over the town and forcing the salamanders into slavery. True to his name, Slippy manages to slip away, but he’s then left wondering how to take care of himself and how to save his family and his village from the evil lizards. This book contains the first four volumes in a series of 10 encompassing Slippy’s adventures away from home. The series is derived from a basic story that Schmidt outlined when he was just 5 years old, which is reproduced in an appendix. Reflecting its origins as a childhood invention, the narrative has a meandering quality as Slippy encounters various friends and helpers—including Sheldon the terrapin, Mrs. Bristlebottom the hedgehog, Squeeks the mouse, Diggy the Troglodyte and others—from bog and ocean to cave and mountain. Along the way, young readers will learn about various types of creatures and their habitats, but some may have trouble separating fact from fiction since Slippy and his friends also encounter dragonlike “earth-wyrms” and trolls as well as other mysterious, fantastical creatures. The cartoonish illustrations are bright and appealing, and each illustration is accompanied by a large-print caption that summarizes the main activity of that moment in the story; early readers will be able to follow along easily, while older readers will appreciate the fuller narrative and the informational, sometimes funny footnotes featured on many pages. The series does for naturalism what the Magic Tree House series did for world history: gives it an engaging story, a sympathetic protagonist and great illustrations, which should appeal to both boys and girls from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Entertaining and educational; a welcome find for parents and kids looking to get hooked on a new series.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985796006

Page Count: 201

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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