Not as strong as either Pulver and Reed’s others or Brian P. Cleary and Martin Goneau’s Pre- and Re-, Mis- and Dis- (2013).

ME FIRST!

PREFIXES LEAD THE WAY

Once again looking in on the doings in Mr. Wright’s classroom, Pulver and Reed continue their language arts series with a look at prefixes.

Lumps of roughly formed clay with painted features and pipe-cleaner legs, the anthropomorphized prefixes are having trouble waiting until Mr. Wright gets around to his promised review of prefixes with his class. It also happens to be Leadership Day at the school, and Mr. Wright, dressed as Abraham Lincoln, is teaching his class about Lincoln’s life and the qualities that made him a good leader. Luckily, the prefixes learn a lot from this lesson, and their former bragging and boastfulness turn to humility. When it’s finally their turn to shine, they make sure the kids can see them around the room as the children complete their assignment: two sentences using prefixes about how they would help or make a difference as a leader. The many prefixes used and shoehorned into the text are set apart by capital letters (“UNsure,” “MISled”) so readers can easily pick them out, but unfortunately, the lesson on leadership detracts from the lesson on prefixes. Backmatter includes a definition of prefixes and a few more facts, and the endpapers feature 16 of the labeled prefix characters with their meanings and an example for each.

Not as strong as either Pulver and Reed’s others or Brian P. Cleary and Martin Goneau’s Pre- and Re-, Mis- and Dis- (2013). (Informational picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3644-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular!

ROT, THE BRAVEST IN THE WORLD!

A “scaredy-spud” puts on his brave face.

All “mutant potatoes” love mud. Mud is good for playing games, eating, and even sleeping. But few taters have more tender feelings toward muck than Rot. À la Pete the Cat, Rot celebrates mud in song: “Mud between my toes! / Mud in my nose! / Mud is GREAT / wherever it GOES!” When Rot’s big brother, Snot, tells Rot about the Squirm that lives “deep down in the mushy muck,” his love quickly turns to fear. But he doesn’t give up! Instead, Rot imagines himself in various disguises to work up courage. There’s “Super Spud” (a superhero), “Sir Super Rot, the Brave and Bold” (a superhero-knight), and even “Sir Super Rot the Pigtato” (a, um, superhero-knight-pig-potato). The disguises are one thing, but, deep down, is Rot really brave enough to face the Squirm? Readers wooed by Rot’s charm in Rot: The Cutest in the World (2017) will laugh out loud at this well-paced encore—and it’s not just because of the butt cracks. Clanton creates a winning dynamic, balancing Rot’s earnestness, witty dialogue, and an omniscient, slightly melodramatic narrator. The cartoon illustrations were created using watercolors, colored pencils, digital collage, and—brilliantly—potato stamps. Clanton’s reliance on earth tones makes for some clever, surprising page turns when the palette is broken.

Cute and brave—gee, Rot’s spud-tacular! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6764-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early...

WE ARE GROWING!

From the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series

Elephant and Piggie make an appearance to introduce the first in their new series, an egalitarian introduction to superlatives.

Each one of seven blades of talking grass—of a total of eight—discovers that it is superb at something: it’s tallest, curliest, silliest, and so forth. The humor aims to appeal to a broad spectrum. It is slightly disturbing that one being eaten by purple bugs is proud of being the crunchiest, but that will certainly appeal to a slice of the audience. The eighth blade of grass is grappling with a philosophical identity crisis; its name is Walt, a sly reference to Whitman's Leaves of Grass that will go right over the heads of beginning readers but may amuse astute parents or teachers. Tension builds with the approach of a lawn mower; the blades of grass lose their unique features when they are trimmed to equal heights. Mercifully, they are chopped off right above the eyes and can continue their silly banter. Departing from the image of a Whitman-esque free spirit, Walt now discovers he is the neatest. Lots of speech bubbles, repetition, and clear layout make this entry a useful addition to lessons on adjectives and superlatives while delivering a not-so-subtle message that everyone is good at something. Elephant and Piggie's final assertion that “this book is the FUNNIEST” doesn't necessarily make it so, however.

Amusing, yes. Useful for reading practice, yes, but not necessarily guaranteed to make new readers the “read-i-est.” (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2635-8

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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