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. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015


Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent.

Published in magazines, never seen since / Now resurrected for pleasure intense / Versified episodes numbering four / Featuring Marco, and Horton and more!

All of the entries in this follow-up to The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011) involve a certain amount of sharp dealing. Horton carries a Kwuggerbug through crocodile-infested waters and up a steep mountain because “a deal is a deal”—and then is cheated out of his promised share of delicious Beezlenuts. Officer Pat heads off escalating, imagined disasters on Mulberry Street by clubbing a pesky gnat. Marco (originally met on that same Mulberry Street) concocts a baroque excuse for being late to school. In the closer, a smooth-talking Grinch (not the green sort) sells a gullible Hoobub a piece of string. In a lively introduction, uber-fan Charles D. Cohen (The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, 2002) provides publishing histories, places characters and settings in Seussian context, and offers insights into, for instance, the origin of “Grinch.” Along with predictably engaging wordplay—“He climbed. He grew dizzy. His ankles grew numb. / But he climbed and he climbed and he clum and he clum”—each tale features bright, crisply reproduced renditions of its original illustrations. Except for “The Hoobub and the Grinch,” which has been jammed into a single spread, the verses and pictures are laid out in spacious, visually appealing ways.

Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-38298-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

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

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. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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