MR. LINCOLN’S WAY

Mr. Lincoln, the African-American school principal is considered “just plain cool” and is loved by all the students—except Eugene Esterhause. “Mean Gene” is a bully who uses racial epithets he has learned from his bigoted father. Mr. Lincoln is determined to reach Eugene and affect a change in his thinking and behavior. When he discovers that Eugene has learned a great deal about nature from his kind grandfather, he enlists Eugene’s help in managing the school’s new atrium. They become deeply involved with the birds, especially a pair of mallards that have nested there. Along the way, Mr. Lincoln tries to teach the troubled child about acceptance and respect of all his “little birds,” both feathered and human. When the ducklings hatch, Eugene and Mr. Lincoln lead them safely to the pond where their parents await. Polacco (Betty Doll, p. 264, etc.) is a master at telling moving stories that gently teach lessons of kindness, compassion, and love. This newest work is only slightly less successful. It is certainly visually appealing, with colorful, expressive illustrations that beautifully enhance the text. Personalities and changing moods are vividly presented in Polacco’s signature style. The story, however, seems a bit contrived and derivative. It’s a little of Make Way for Ducklings meets To Sir with Love. In fact, endpapers that show a grown Gene Esterhause, now a teacher, indicating there might be more to the story as indeed the flap copy reveals that Polacco based her setting on a school where the ducks and atrium do exist. With that in mind, it is still a sweet story about learning to respect oneself and others, and is well worth the reader’s attention. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23754-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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