A fun-filled ride.

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THE GREAT BALLOON HULLABALOO

A not-so-simple errand turns into a visit to distant planets and great adventures for Simon the Squirrel and his friends.

With his rather eclectic shopping list in hand and some good friends, Simon flies through the universe in a hot air balloon. They head for the moon to buy some cheese—the most important ingredient—but they are blown off course by a high-jumping cow, so they go to Mars instead to buy some of the items on his list and then on to Saturn, Uranus and the others to purchase the rest. Along the way, they encounter the obligatory little green man, a hairy pink monster and other creatures of varying idiosyncrasies. He arrives home without the cheese, but his pals have it, and they all have a pizza party to celebrate. Bently charges up the silliness with singsong verses in aabb rhyme that dash madly through the escapades. There’s a charming mixture of American and British vernacular, and young American readers will find sufficient contextual clues for understanding “clamber,” “cross” and “daft,” and there’s “Mom” and “fries” for those on this side of the pond. In Matsuoka’s bright, lively, stylized illustrations, most of the animals bear little resemblance to their real-life counterparts, but they fly across the pages in perfect tandem with the goofy spirit of the text.

A fun-filled ride. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-3449-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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Cool and stylish.

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ADA TWIST, SCIENTIST

Her intellectual curiosity is surpassed only by her passion for science. But what to do about her messy experiments?

Ada is speechless until she turns 3. But once she learns how to break out of her crib, there’s no stopping the kinky-haired, brown-skinned girl. “She tore through the house on a fact-finding spree.” When she does start speaking, her favorite words are “why,” “how,” and “when.” Her parents, a fashion-forward black couple who sport a variety of trendy outfits, are dumbfounded, and her older brother can only point at her in astonishment. She amazes her friends with her experiments. Ada examines all the clocks in the house, studies the solar system, and analyzes all the smells she encounters. Fortunately, her parents stop her from putting the cat in the dryer, sending her instead to the Thinking Chair. But while there, she covers the wall with formulae. What can her parents do? Instead of punishing her passion, they decide to try to understand it. “It’s all in the heart of a young scientist.” Though her plot is negligible—Ada’s parents arguably change more than she does—Beaty delightfully advocates for girls in science in her now-trademark crisply rhyming text. Roberts’ illustrations, in watercolor, pen, and ink, manage to be both smart and silly; the page compositions artfully evoke the tumult of Ada’s curiosity, filling white backgrounds with questions and clutter.

Cool and stylish. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2137-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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