IN ENZO'S SPLENDID GARDENS

The prolific Polacco (The Trees of the Dancing Goats, 1996, etc.) tells a cumulative tale of the mayhem that ensues when a bee lands on a tree at an outdoor restaurant, setting off a frenzied chain of events; "The House That Jack Built" provides the blueprint—"This is the bee that stopped on a tree in Enzo's splendid gardens." A boy who drops his book to look at a bee causes the waiter to trip, splashing a drink on a matron, forcing ladies to trip and spill their tea, resulting in a man face down in the dessert tray, who jostles the chef, and so forth. The rhyme scheme gets the better of Polacco, with awkward rhythms that deviate from the pattern. As the chaos spreads, the lines become jarring: "Here comes Enzo, full of spaghetti, chasing his cat, whose name is Lettie, hoping to catch her, but she thinks not and runs through the room, wearing the pot that was jostled and spilled." The result is a glorified food fight. The illustrations are crowded with swarms of restaurant-goers whose mouths show perpetual astonishment, but the staging is clumsy, too. Readers cannot follow the action as it is choreographed in the scenes, e.g., the waiter is suspended mid-air for two spreads, implying a short passage of time, while another man in those pages goes from a relaxed pose sitting behind a table to running away in panic some distance from the scene, indicating that the time that has lapsed is longer. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 1997

ISBN: 0-399-23107-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1997

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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