Tired readers may empathize with Hildie, but there’s not much here to help them get to sleep.

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HILDIE BITTERPICKLES NEEDS HER SLEEP

A young witch in need of some shut-eye learns that diplomacy and problem-solving work wonders in dealing with noisy neighbors.

Hildie is a girl with a routine. Every night the red-haired white girl brushes her teeth, puts away her spell book, and goes to bed with her cat, Clawdia. But recently, her rest has been thwarted by her neighbors. Though they are never specifically referred to by name or by fairy tale, they will nonetheless be familiar to young readers: a giant whose beanstalk elevator rattles and clanks, a family in a shoe-shaped trailer with a racially diverse brood that plays baseball all night long, and a wolf who accidentally blows the roof off Hildie’s house. Exasperated, Hildie decides to move, turning to the classifieds in the Daily Witch for inspiration. Rat Realty’s owner, Monty, suggests two rentals, but neither gives Hildie a full night’s sleep. His third property is Hildie’s own home, and she finally tries some diplomacy with her neighbors. While the witch cleverly pairs her neighbors’ issues with her own failed solutions (the three tinkering blind mice fix the elevator), the story lacks the sparkle and wit of Newman’s first outing. Ewald, in his picture-book debut, folds in lots of references to other fairy tales and nursery rhymes, but several of his digital spreads are too dark to make out details.

Tired readers may empathize with Hildie, but there’s not much here to help them get to sleep. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-939547-23-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Creston

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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