Knee-slappers on every page for tenderfoot readers and writers.



From “lamebrain” to “feet of clay,” a heaping handful of English idioms, similes, metaphors, and other colorful turns of phrase.

Using Street’s There’s a Frog in My Throat! 440 Animal Sayings a Little Bird Told Me (2003, illustrated by Loreen Leedy) as a model, Street and Brace group their entries by body part and pair each to a literal-minded alternative or explanation: “She knit her brows. She frowned in concentration”; “I’m hip. I know what you mean.” Brace jumps up the humor with spreads of demonstrative cartoon figures—including animals, animate internal organs, and even zombie bunnies—whose actions and comments are intended to further clarify the meanings. And they usually do, though the vomiting ticker by “heartsick” misses the boat, and having a lad shout “Holy cuss!” next to “potty mouth” is a yellow-bellied decision. If a few miscast homophones like “back to the drawing board” and “head of lettuce” tiptoe in, there are still lips zipped, buttoned, and sealed; fingers crossed, pointed, butter, light, and worked to the bone; hearts whole, half, soft and hard, black, cold, gold, and more to enrich both spoken and written tongues. Not to mention zombie bunnies biting off heads and picking brains.

Knee-slappers on every page for tenderfoot readers and writers. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2135-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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