WAKE THE DEAD

Readers unable to absorb pun-ishment, beware! Rambunctious young Henry ignores warnings that his noise will wake the dead—until it does just that. Rising from the local cemetery, a band of irritated corpses goes in search of the racket’s source. Is it the library? No, only dead silence there. The Mayor’s office? Nothing there but skeletons in the closet. The Dead Letter Office? Nope. Relentlessly giving every conceivable expression involving death a literal turn, Harris sends the searchers—portrayed in Kwas’s cartoon illustrations as shrouded but unfrightening figures with peanut-shaped heads—from swimming pool (“A boneheaded idea, since they were dead in the water”) to the park where they’re set to “work their fingers to the bone pushing up daisies.” At last they catch up with Henry, who tries to put them back down with games (“Kick the Bucket”), races (ending in a dead heat), and dance music (“Staying Alive”)—but in the end, it’s a good, old-fashioned bedtime story (Goodnight Goon) that does the trick. A dead cinch for storytime. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2004

ISBN: 0-8027-8922-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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GOONEY BIRD GREENE

Gooney Bird Greene (with a silent E) is not your average second grader. She arrives in Mrs. Pidgeon’s class announcing: “I’m your new student and I just moved here from China. I want a desk right smack in the middle of the room, because I like to be right smack in the middle of everything.” Everything about her is unusual and mysterious—her clothes, hairstyles, even her lunches. Since the second graders have never met anyone like Gooney Bird, they want to hear more about her. Mrs. Pidgeon has been talking to the class about what makes a good story, so it stands to reason that Gooney will get her chance. She tells a series of stories that explain her name, how she came from China on a flying carpet, how she got diamond earrings at the prince’s palace, and why she was late for school (because she was directing a symphony orchestra). And her stories are “absolutely true.” Actually, they are explainable and mesh precisely with the teacher’s lesson, more important, they are a clever device that exemplify the elements of good storytelling and writing and also demonstrate how everyone can turn everyday events into stories. Savvy teachers should take note and add this to their shelf of “how a story is made” titles. Gooney Bird’s stories are printed in larger type than the narrative and the black-and-white drawings add the right touch of sauciness (only the cover is in color). A hybrid of Harriet, Blossom, and Anastasia, irrepressible Gooney Bird is that rare bird in children’s fiction: one that instantly becomes an amusing and popular favorite. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-23848-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Walter Lorraine/Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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