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PRAIRIE FRIENDS

Betsy and her family live on the Nebraska prairie in this idyllic story of friendship. She is lonely because there are no girls her age to play with. When her father tells her about a new family, she hopes for a new friend. When she meets Mr. Fitzroy, her hopes are raised to hear he has a daughter, Emmeline, just about Betsy’s age. Betsy makes Emmeline a cornhusk doll, but is disappointed by her unenthusiastic response to the gift. Turns out that Emmeline is from St. Paul, and misses her porcelain dolls and all the toys she had to sell to move to Nebraska. The two girls get lost while berry-picking, and have to rely on Betsy’s understanding of the prairie, including her knowledge that sandhill cranes will lead them to the creek near home. The adventure solidifies their friendship in an all’s-well-that-ends-well conclusion. Much is left from the text: exactly when does this story take place? Why do they live so far from neighbors? What are the families doing in Nebraska? How do the families react to the girls’ disappearance? An author’s note fills in some of the blanks, but the information seems incomplete. Levinson mentions the differences between dugouts and soddies, but the illustrations and story have little to do with housing. No mention is made of the sandhill cranes, though most young readers will know little of their habits. For a more poignant and informative historical fiction about prairie life, friendship, and loneliness, refer to Eve Bunting’s Dandelions. (Easy reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-028001-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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