More magical, mystical nonsense verse from one of children's literature's great maverick talents, coupled with astonishing, accomplished paper sculptures from a newcomer. Ageless young traveler Shoefly Sally introduces herself in the first poem, praising the Moon & Riddles Diner and the Sunnyside Café, where she "learned to bake from a talking cake." "It's there the hoppelpoppels dance / and the emerald antelope sing. / My dog's as welcome as myself. / His name is Everything." Further on, the Great Bear adds an accolade, a Pampel Moose escapes, in a bluesy lyric "The Teapot Pours Out Her Story," and a Chuggamonga Frog defeats the Riddling Ghost (with the help of 800 confederates). Readers meet a thread spider, the Queen of Chickens (unfortunately depicted as a rooster), and a stove with peculiar properties. Butler is equal to this quirky cast, fashioning from cut and scored bristol board—dramatically backlit to bring out strong lines and three-dimensionality—a series of leafy-framed tableaux featuring everything from kitchenware to a herd of heifers rock-and-rolling across a moonlit sky. Loosely linked, both to one another and to a set of playful recipes aimed at chefs of diverse expertise, the poems are sometimes haunting, sometimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, always surprising—and Butler's picture-book debut is nothing short of brilliant. (Picture book/poetry. 6+)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-201941-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...


Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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For the 90's, a handsome, well-documented collection of stories about nine uniquely American characters. In her intelligent introduction, Osborne explains their genesis ``from various combinations of historical fact, the storytelling of ordinary people, and the imagination of professional writers'' and notes that changing times put a new light on stories deriding various groups (including women and even animals). Thus her intention is to emphasize ``gargantuan physical courage and absurd humor'' and to ``bring out the vulnerable and compassionate side'' despite the stories' ``ineradicable taint of violence.'' Osborne succeeds pretty well in her intention, piecing together stories that make fine introductions to characters like Mose and Stormalong. Her approach suits Johnny Appleseed and John Henry better than it does Davy Crockett battling a panther, but she does manage to put a new slant on Pecos Bill and his bouncing bride without undermining the story (there's no question of a wife's disobedience here; Sue wants to ride Bill's horse as a test of skill). The telling is more polished than lively—Glen Rounds's irrepressible wit (Ol' Paul, the Mighty Logger, 1949) is more fun, but these versions are perfectly acceptable. McCurdy's vigorous wood engravings, tinted with lucid color, contribute a rugged frontier flavor; lively, though a bit formal in style, they suit the text admirably. Each story is introduced by source notes; a story-by-story bibliography provides a good roundup of this popular genre. (Folklore. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-80089-1

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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