Order something else.



A boy with an obnoxious habit finds a vocation—and maybe a dash of maturity—in the kitchen.

Ackerman buries his message, if any, beneath a deluge of so-clever bons mots. As the white child protagonist stops screaming only when he’s fed, his harried parents ply him with so much chickpea curry and “luscialicious” linguini that he grows too fat to fit in the door. When some burned chicken sparks a fresh tantrum they throw in the dish towel and tell him to serve up his own meals—whereupon he becomes more enamored of cooking than eating, slims down, and opens a restaurant. The screams start up again after a food critic’s “scrump-diddly-icious” rave brings so much frantic business that the lad tops a sundae with a chicken leg and plops his mother on a plate of lentils. Her threat to close the cafe if he doesn’t stop the noise leads to a high-volume apology, songs rather than screams, and a fresh stream of delectable creations: “A girl tasted the molten chocolate lava cake, jumped up and recited the alphabet in Swahili. (And she didn’t even know Swahili).” Nor, it turns out, does Dalton, who represents that white girl’s outburst with a cloud of random shapes. Overall, the illustrations fail either to echo the narrative’s labored air of sophistication or even to make the food plated up for a racially diverse array of diners look appetizing.

Order something else. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56792-598-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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...


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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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.


A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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