Many kids begin wondering about their origins at a young age but some parents might not be comfortable getting into discussions about sexual reproduction too early. This paperback co-written by a board-certified pediatrician and his screenwriting brother provides them with an easy out.

Jeffrey comes home from school wanting answers, and on the left side of each spread he asks a probing question about how he came to be using simple language and concepts any curious child might use, such as “Was I hatched from a giant egg?” On the top of each adjacent page, the wildly imaginative Jeffrey conjures up a lavishly illustrated scenario wherein the response to his inquiry is yes: “I bet Mommy sat on me for a whole year until I broke out of my shell with my feathers and claws and my big, colorful dragon wings.” As his doting parents patiently weigh in (yes, Mommy did grow him for nine months, but no, not in a garden like a Venus Flytrap), the love between parent and child is made plainly evident. When Jeffrey finally finds out some semblance of the truth—that he was made out of love—young readers will surely feel just as satisfied by the resolution as little Jeffrey. They’ll also be drawn to all the robots and purple tentacled aliens of Jeffrey’s imagination too. But given that it features a happily married couple as parents, the book might be off-putting for single-parent or broken-family households. Also, the book’s title gives away the punch line before the spine is even cracked. Nonetheless, this is a heartwarming lesson in parenting for the “Brady Bunch” set.  An imaginative picture book for tiny tykes that enterainingly addresses how babies are made without resorting to biological terminology.


Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1937387259

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Telemachus Press

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2012

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.


Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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