Vivid, offbeat, and instructive.

SCRIBBLE AND AUTHOR

An unseen author guides a scribble through the elements of story creation.

A paintbrush dabs a pear-shaped orange blob onto the page, then pencil lines are added, making a face, arms and legs, and voilà: Scribble. Author, appearing only as a disembodied voice, announces that the scribble will be given the opportunity to make a journey. The text and illustrations are completely interdependent. Although Author never appears, digitally collaged-in photographs of a sharp pencil, a brush, and an eraser, later joined by lined paper, a sharpener, and cellophane tape, all play a role in the evolving story. Author’s voice takes the form of narrative text in a type reminiscent of an old-style typewriter, while Scribble interacts with faux hand-printed dialogue in speech balloons. The scribble must make all the decisions, passing along a curvy yellow road through gates that lead to the beginning, middle, and end of the story, all rendered in softly hued watercolor with a bit of black line for definition. Author encourages, exhorts, challenges, and offers suggestions, while Scribble makes inventive use of the accouterments provided by Author. Leshem-Pelly endows Scribble with a childlike demeanor and the willingness to go along on this new adventure. At times Author can be annoying, didactic, and pushy, but Scribble valiantly carries on, finally arriving at an imaginative happy ending.

Vivid, offbeat, and instructive. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61067-575-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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