Van Laan (Tickle Tum!, p. 59, etc.) presents a collection of three not-too-scary rhyming tales populated by Chess’s (The Beautiful Butterfly, 2000, etc.) wickedly loathsome, dark-eyed creatures. The first story is of the unsavory Old Doctor Wango, an unpleasant character who has starved his dog Towser, his cat Mouser, and his poor gaunt horse Sam by feeding them just pebbles and grass. He then takes a ride and all are blown away by a wahooing wind. A bit of a let-down. The second describes a gruesome being pulled together piece by piece: “Two legs inside a pair of pants / came bounding down the stairs. / They danced a jig and spun around / Then something else came wooshing down.” Right, the arms inside a shirt, and so forth. And the final installment in this trilogy of horror is an old favorite of the up-past-midnight sleepover set: An old woman is picking peas (the bright green pea pods are as long as her arm) and finds a detached hairy toe on the ground. She buries it and that night the original owner haunts her to get it back. This version is kinder and gentler than usual, thanks to the rhyming and the lack of the traditional jump, but it’s creepy enough for a younger scare. Children will enjoy Van Laan’s storytelling cadence and the sheer fun of the language—and you can’t beat Chess’s ghoulish creatures with a hairy toe. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-81875-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Aimed at parents with children who are just toddling into literacy, this collection of reprints from Nick Jr. offers 11 short poems or domestic episodes that lend themselves to shared reading. Some, such as Sarah Albee’s comic “Don’t Wake the Baby!,” illustrated by Marjorie Wunsch, are wordless sequences; in the rest, short lines of text are punctuated by repeated, easily repeatable words or phrases in a larger type size: “Summer sunshine beats / on sizzling city streets. / There’s no need to wear a lot. . . . / It’s HOT, HOT, HOT!” A different author and illustrator collaborate on each selection; Jack Prelutsky, Jean Marzollo, Olivier Dunrea, and Chris Raschka provide most of the star power, but both the writing and the bright cartoon art is consistent throughout in tone and quality, without sudden jumps in readability or visual left turns. For lap-sit partners who aren’t yet up to meatier collections, such as Mary Ann Hoberman’s You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You (2001), this makes a perfect way to promote reading as a participatory, social act. (Collection. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85963-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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Clear text, amusing illustrations, and a captivating easy-to-read story make this a winner for horse-loving emerging readers.


From the I Like To Read series

Knight and Horse follow their dreams— literally.

Horse and Knight are exhausted when readers meet them, collapsing upon returning to their castle. But when Knight has a dream of golden cookies, he (or she—readers never see Knight with visor up) wakes the sleepy steed, and they go questing for the treasure. They look everywhere—hollow trees, the bushes, and a pond—only to find the cookies at home in a jar on the kitchen table. The loony plot and the spirited pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations elevate this book above most for emerging readers. Knight’s metal suit, astonishingly, betrays emotions and energy level, whether tired, curious, or energized. (Even the armored feet look tired.) Watching Knight sleep with tush in the air will certainly elicit giggles from the youngest readers. Horse, too, is metal-clad, but its armor does not cover its skeptical eyes, allowing readers to laugh along while the near-asleep rider falls out of the saddle. Clear, readable typeface and familiar sight words are the order of the day. Repeated words (especially “good,” “night,” “horse,” “knight,” and “sleep”) punctuate the humorous story, making it easy to decode. When Horse has a dream of its own at the end, smiling readers will have no choice but to wonder where the pair are off to now.

Clear text, amusing illustrations, and a captivating easy-to-read story make this a winner for horse-loving emerging readers. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3206-6

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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