“Presto!” intones Will whenever he witnesses the “magic” of his family’s mailbox: letters appear and disappear when no one is looking. Sadly, the magic falls flat for Will—he never gets mail. Encouraged by his mother’s example, Will mails a missive to himself and receives it two days later. The experience proves underwhelming because, after all, the letter yields no surprises. Shortly thereafter, however, Will spies, on a box of his favorite cereal, a picture of a boy and girl mailing letters. Reading further, he discovers this is an advertising promotion: each child is sending away labels from three of these boxes in order to receive personalized cereal bowls in the mail. Eating lots more Magic Charms than usual and plying everyone he knows with it, Will soon empties the required three boxes, snips off the labels, and mails them away. The abracadabra is long in coming, but finally the bowl, emblazoned “Will the Great” arrives. Is Will going to fill it with cereal? Of course not. Now emboldened by his magic powers, Will declares that he's going to fill it with oats—for the horse he’s planning to send away for from yet another cereal company! Poydar’s (First Day, Hooray!, 1999, etc.) writing is not particularly felicitous here, but she does capture the allure of getting a letter. Collage bits of magazines, catalogues, and postcards add a little panache to the scenes of endlessly open-mouthed, round-eyed characters. The text does include some clearly laid-out information about how mail is handled and also some helpful pointers for children on how to address envelopes correctly. Good for introducing the concept of getting mail. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1525-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2000


Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes.

Oscar winner McConaughey offers intriguing life observations.

The series of pithy, wry comments, each starting with the phrase “Just because,” makes clear that each of us is a mass of contradictions: “Just because we’re friends, / doesn’t mean you can’t burn me. / Just because I’m stubborn, / doesn’t mean that you can’t turn me.” Witty, digitally rendered vignettes portray youngsters diverse in terms of race and ability (occasionally with pets looking on) dealing with everything from friendship drama to a nerve-wracking footrace. “Just because I’m dirty, / doesn’t mean I can’t get clean” is paired with an image of a youngster taking a bath while another character (possibly an older sibling) sits nearby, smiling. “Just because you’re nice, / doesn’t mean you can’t get mean” depicts the older one berating the younger one for tracking mud into the house. The artwork effectively brings to life the succinct, rhyming text and will help readers make sense of it. Perhaps, after studying the illustrations and gaining further insight into the comments, kids will reread and reflect upon them further. The final page unites the characters from earlier pages with a reassuring message for readers: “Just because the sun has set, / doesn’t mean it will not rise. / Because every day is a gift, / each one a new surprise. BELIEVE IT.” As a follow-up, readers should be encouraged to make their own suggestions to complete the titular phrase. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Charming and thought-provoking proof that we all contain multitudes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9780593622032

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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