Fun, with depth

READ REVIEW

IZZY GIZMO

From the Izzy Gizmo series

Young inventor Izzy attempts to help an injured crow fly again.

Izzy Gizmo loves making things. She loves creating, mending, and improving so much so that she carries “her tool bag wherever she [goes].” Sadly, however, her inventions “don’t always work.” In rhyming verse, readers are told exactly how Izzy’s inventions misbehave, while the colorful illustrations highlight their complexity. Frustrated Izzy is encouraged by her caregiver grandfather, who, though the victim of her misbehaving innovations, dispenses this advice: “Sometimes you need / to try again and again if you want to succeed.” When Izzy discovers an injured crow that the vet says won’t fly again, she engages it in fun, earthbound activities, but the crow’s heart is still in the skies. Izzy decides to use her talents to make the crow new wings: she researches, makes lists, and gathers parts, but like her previous inventions, none of the wings work properly. At many points along the way, curly-haired, brown-skinned Izzy wants to quit—and says so—but continues to persevere and in the end succeeds. Though readers may wonder if the rhymes were necessary, this story of a girl engineer is sorely needed and has potential to develop and nourish readers’ interest in STEAM subjects. Additionally, themes of creativity and tenacity, together with the portrayal of a girl who’s allowed to show anger and frustration, make this a worthwhile read.

Fun, with depth . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68263-021-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Peachtree

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

LOVE MONSTER

Monster lives in Cutesville, where he feels his googly eyes make him unlovable, especially compared to all the “cute, fluffy” kittens, puppies and bunnies. He goes off to find someone who will appreciate him just the way he is…with funny and heartwarming results.

A red, scraggly, pointy-eared, arm-dragging monster with a pronounced underbite clutches his monster doll to one side of his chest, exposing a purplish blue heart on the other. His oversized eyes express his loneliness. Bright could not have created a more sympathetic and adorable character. But she further impresses with the telling of this poor chap’s journey. Since Monster is not the “moping-around sort,” he strikes out on his own to find someone who will love him. “He look[s] high” from on top of a hill, and “he look[s] low” at the bottom of the same hill. The page turn reveals a rolling (and labeled) tumbleweed on a flat stretch. Here “he look[s] middle-ish.” Careful pacing combines with dramatic design and the deadpan text to make this sad search a very funny one. When it gets dark and scary, he decides to head back home. A bus’s headlights shine on his bent figure. All seems hopeless—until the next page surprises, with a smiling, orange monster with long eyelashes and a pink heart on her chest depicted at the wheel. And “in the blink of a googly eye / everything change[s].”

This seemingly simple tale packs a satisfying emotional punch. Scarily good! (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 31, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-374-34646-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more