The latest in the Urban Babies Wear Black series demonstrates a wry sense of humor, crisp, sophisticated graphics and a thematic approach that leaves its presumed audience of babies in the cold. In addition to wearing bibs, it appears that foodie babies “know their way around a kitchen,” “browse farmers’ markets” and “dine al fresco.” Dion’s illustrations partake of a Helen Oxenbury–style sense of irony (the baby sharing “small plates” is seen from behind, flinging peas at a startled mother), but the complexity of their rendering puts them far beyond the visual comprehension of an actual baby. More for smug foodie parents than real babies—but we already knew that. (2-3)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-58246-254-7

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2008


This entry in the Harper Growing Tree series has a text modeled on “There was a little turtle,” and several other hand rhymes. It’s a lap-sized alternative to board books and features three animals and a child gleefully being chased, hiding from their pursuers, and then being caught up—in the child’s case—for a parental hug. A brief line or two of text undulates across each simple painting of happy, bounding figures, all eyes and smiles; the sturdy paper stock will survive rough handling during the repeated reading most children will demand. You can almost hear the giggles. (Picture book. 2-3)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1998

ISBN: 0-694-01038-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: HarperFestival

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

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Hannah Hadley is a young special agent who must thwart a clear and present danger to the United States in Hoover’s “smart is cool” young adult novel.

Hannah Hadley might seem like most 13-year-old girls. She enjoys painting, playing with her MP3 player and spending time with friends. But that’s where the similarities end. Hadley doubles as Agent 10-1, among the youngest spies drafted into the CIA’s Div Y department. She’s joined in her missions by her 10-pound Shih Tzu, Kiwi (with whom she communicates telepathically), and her best friend Tommie Claire, a blind girl with heightened senses. When duty calls, the group sneaks to a hidden command center located under the floor of Hadley’s art studio. Her current mission, aptly named “Operation Farmer Jones,” takes her to a secluded farmhouse in Canada. There, al-Qaida terrorists have gathered the necessary ingredients for a particularly devastating nuclear warhead that they intend to fire into America. The villains are joined by the Mad Madam of Mayhem, a physicist for hire whom the terrorists force to complete the weapon of mass destruction. With Charlie Higson’s Young James Bond series and the ongoing 39 Clues novellas, covert missions and secret plans are the plots of choice in much of today’s fiction for young readers, and references to the famed 007 stories abound in Hoover’s tale. But while the plot feels familiar, Hoover’s use of modern slang—albeit strained at times—and gadgets such as the iTouch appeal to today’s youth. Placing girls in adult situations has been a mainstay since Mildred Wirt Benson first introduced readers to Nancy Drew in The Secret of the Old Clock, but Hannah Hadley is like Nancy Drew on steroids. Both are athletic, score well in their studies and have a measure of popularity. Hadley, however, displays a genius-level intellect and near superhuman abilities in her efforts to roust the terrorists—handy skills for a young teen spy who just so happens to get the best grades in school.

A familiar story skillfully reimagined for today’s gadget-savvy youth.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0615419688

Page Count: 239

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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