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SPACEBOT

Outtasight! An extraterrestrial lands in the night.

Strange beeps and a blazing light awaken household appliances. The house glances skyward as does the family pup, who’d been snoozing in the doghouse. The light turns out to be a UFO, out of which strolls a metallic, robot dog with a glowing red nose. The dog instantly recognizes the newcomer as a kindred species and welcomes it with open paws, hoping the visitor will become a playmate. However, the creature ignores its Earthling counterpart and is heartily greeted by…the aforementioned appliances who cheer for “Spacebot” like it’s a long-lost electronic relation. When it points its metallic paw upward, the devices take their cue: They soar into the sky and perform playful acrobatics, descending and returning home at the bot’s direction. Meanwhile, the dog has been futilely attempting to fly as well but has remained earthbound. A surprise awaits, though. Before Spacebot departs, it tosses a glowing red ball to the pup. This “gift” fits right on pup’s nose and bestows the gift of flight. Guess who flies to the moon at the end of the story? This silly, quirky tale’s simple rhyme scheme reads and scans well; minimal text and lots of white space permit focus on characters and action. The cartoon illustrations are lively, energetic, and expressive, and readers should enjoy the escapades of both appliances and pup.

Make space on shelves for this one. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4436-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

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. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

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  • Caldecott Honor Book

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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