I WAS A RAT!

PLB 0-375-90176-0 Pullman (The Firework-Maker’s Daughter, p. 1651, etc.) takes aim at city hall, the law, police, and especially the press in this whirlwind spinoff from a certain familiar fairy tale. As The Daily Scourge trumpets the prince’s whirlwind courtship with a mysterious princess, humble cobbler, Old Bob, and his wife, Joan, share a more immediate concern when an exhausted lad in a torn page-boy’s uniform appears at their door, able to tell them only that he used to be a rat. Although his habits and table manners are indeed ratlike, Bob and Joan take him in, dub him “Roger” and, when no government agency shows an interest, begin to think of him as their own. A quick learner but completely at sea in human society, Roger immediately falls into a series of misadventures, from biting a teacher who tries to strike him, to becoming a sideshow attraction. He flees to the sewers, only to be hunted down and condemned, both in court and in the pages of the Scourge, as a danger to children. Fortunately, Bob and Joan bring Roger’s plight, along with a pair of fine shoes, to the kindly princess, who, realizing just who the boy is, engineers a royal rescue. The satire is a bit heavy-handed, but children will find Roger’s ingenuousness, along with his inordinate fondness for pencils and other tasty chewables, hilarious. (b&w illustrations, not seen) (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-375-80176-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1999

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THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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