JOE-JOE’S FIRST FLIGHT

Beautiful watercolor illustrations highlight a touching account of African-American airport workers’ aspirations. The chatty first-person narrative is from Joe-Joe’s point of view—his father works at the airport. Joe-Joe, his father, and the other men hope for a chance to fly, but “the man” says, “In due time,” and that time never seems to come. The story takes off when Joe-Joe falls asleep in a cockpit and dreams that he flies up to capture the moon and bring back hope to Blind Eye. His joyful expression as he approaches an enormous, bright moon provides a striking contrast to the resigned, dusty look of the scenes on the ground. Realistically, Joe-Joe can’t do anything to further the men’s ambitions, but current readers with the perspective of history will know that Joe-Joe himself may be able to fly by the time he grows up. An author’s note discusses African-Americans in aviation. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 10, 2003

ISBN: 0-375-81053-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2003

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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THE SEALS ON THE BUS

With a tiger at the wheel, the big purple bus rolls all over town, picking up a menagerie of passengers from sheep (“BAAAH, BAAAH, BAAAH”) to vipers—get it? — (“HISS, HISS, HISS”) to skunks (“SSSS, SSSS, SSSS”) before disgorging its dismayed human riders (“HELP! HELP! HELP!”) at an outdoor party. Though wild creatures waddle, tramp, or slither aboard by troops there's always room for more in Karas’s (Raising Sweetness, 1999, etc.) gleeful paint-and-paper collage scenes. The scene on the bus is bound to provoke a great reaction and reading (or honking) along is inevitable. It's a frolicsome spin on the familiar play rhyme, and a surefire alternative or follow-up to Maryann Kovalski's Wheels on the Bus (1987) or Paul Zelinsky's classic popup version (1990). Hop onboard. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-5952-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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