LITTLE RAT SETS SAIL

Little Rat’s parents have signed her up for sailing lessons, but she doesn’t want to learn to sail; in fact, she doesn’t even want to get wet. She perseveres through a whole summer of sailing lessons in this beginning chapter book, a first effort from Bang-Campbell (who is an accomplished sailor herself), with illustrations provided by her mother, Caldecott Honor artist Bang (Tiger’s Fall, 2001, etc.). Little Rat is joined in sailing class by a menagerie of assorted animals, including a raccoon that is even more timid and nervous, providing Little Rat an opportunity to help someone else. Lots of sailing terms are introduced, with some terms defined within the text, some through one labeled illustration, and a few just thrown out and never defined (e.g., the unexplained use of the word lines for ropes, which will confuse anyone who hasn’t sailed before, especially first graders who draw lines and get in lines for recess). But never mind, Little Rat is a brave little sailor with her own shy appeal and Bang’s charming illustrations are impossible to resist. This story, the first in a series, will be popular in areas where sailboats rule the seas. Let’s hope Little Rat learns to swim in the next offering, as those who go down to the sea to sail should really learn to swim first. (Easy reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-216297-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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JOHN PHILIP DUCK

Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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