A toothy, toothsome tale—if stronger on wish-fulfillment than feasible bully-fooling.

READ REVIEW

THE REALLY, REALLY, REALLY BIG DINOSAUR

In this pointed prehistoric episode, little Jackson, derisively dubbed a “tinysaur,” defends a jar of jelly beans from a dino-bully.

Jackson’s warning that the jelly beans belong to his “really, really, really big friend” prompts only scoffing from his glowering assailant. Sarcastically declaring himself “really, really, really scared,” the increasingly angry bully demonstrates various feats of strength, each of which Jackson dismisses: “Everyone knows my friend can eat show-offs like you for breakfast.” This claim turns out to be (more or less) true, as the rolling green hills on which the confrontation has been taking place are revealed on the climactic spread to be the back of Jackson’s monstrous buddy after the “cave” into which the bully runs closes with a “SNAP!” Fortunately, the monster turns out to be a vegetarian and releases his chastened victim. The episode, illustrated with big, simple cartoons in jelly-bean colors and related in lines of variously sized large type, ends with all three dinosaurs amicably sharing the candy, “One for him…And one for you…AND ONE FOR ME!”

A toothy, toothsome tale—if stronger on wish-fulfillment than feasible bully-fooling. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58925-123-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Accessible, reassuring and hopeful.

THE INVISIBLE BOY

This endearing picture book about a timid boy who longs to belong has an agenda but delivers its message with great sensitivity.

Brian wants to join in but is overlooked, even ostracized, by his classmates. Readers first see him alone on the front endpapers, drawing in chalk on the ground. The school scenarios are uncomfortably familiar: High-maintenance children get the teacher’s attention; team captains choose kickball players by popularity and athletic ability; chatter about birthday parties indicates they are not inclusive events. Tender illustrations rendered in glowing hues capture Brian’s isolation deftly; compared to the others and his surroundings, he appears in black and white. What saves Brian is his creativity. As he draws, Brian imagines amazing stories, including a poignant one about a superhero with the power to make friends. When a new boy takes some ribbing, it is Brian who leaves an illustrated note to make him feel better. The boy does not forget this gesture. It only takes one person noticing Brian for the others to see his talents have value; that he has something to contribute. Brian’s colors pop. In the closing endpapers, Brian’s classmates are spread around him on the ground, “wearing” his chalk-drawn wings and capes. Use this to start a discussion: The author includes suggested questions and recommended reading lists for adults and children.

Accessible, reassuring and hopeful. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-582-46450-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character

PEDRO, FIRST-GRADE HERO

From the Pedro series , Vol. 1

The creators of the Katie Woo series turn their focus to a peripheral character, first-grader Pedro—Katie’s friend and schoolmate.

Four short chapters—“Pedro Goes Buggy,” “Pedro’s Big Goal,” “Pedro’s Mystery Club,” and “Pedro For President”—highlight a Latino main character surrounded by a superbly diverse cast. At times unsure of himself, Pedro is extremely likable, for he wants to do his best and is a fair friend. He consistently comes out on top, even when his younger brother releases all the bugs he’s captured for a class assignment or when self-assured bully Roddy tries to unite opposition to Pedro’s female opponent (Katie Woo) in the race for first-grade class president. Using a third-person, past-tense narrative voice, Manushkin expands her repertoire by adding a hero comparable to EllRay Jakes. What is refreshing about the book is that for the most part, aside from Roddy’s gender-based bullying, the book overcomes boy-girl stereotypes: girls and boys play soccer, boys and girls run for president, girls and boys hunt for bugs, all setting a progressive standard for chapter books. With mixed-media illustrations featuring colorful bugs, soccer action, a mystery hunt, and a presidential campaign, Lyon’s attention to detail in color and facial expressions complements the story nicely.

This earnest Latino first-grader who overcomes obstacles and solves mysteries is a winning character . (Fiction. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5158-0112-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Picture Window Books

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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