Willis Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (1999). (Fiction. 11-13)

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REM WORLD

Preachy, predictable tale of an overweight lad who saves the universe while gaining self-esteem—a large step back from

Philbrick’s Freak the Mighty (1993). The odd helmet that Arthur Woodbury, a.k.a. "Biscuit Butt," receives on his 11th birthday projects him into another world—but because he doesn’t read the instructions carefully, he opens a crack in the cosmos through which all-destroying Nothing begins to seep. Acquiring an inscrutable, monkey-like sidekick, Arthur is propelled into encounters with froglike Frog People, winged Cloud People, and other residents of REM World, all of whom bolster his self-confidence with platitudes ("You are whatever you think you are. What you believe yourself to be," etc.) and send him on his way to the demon Vydel, who alone can tell him how to get back to his own dimension. Even readers uncritical enough to enjoy the author’s lame efforts at wit—burps of epic proportion, avian monsters dubbed borons ("bird" + "moron")—will find Arthur’s adventures so obviously freighted with Purpose as to be almost devoid of danger or suspense. Unsurprisingly, he has only to envision home to be there—and when he wakes up, both the cloud of Nothing and his excess poundage have melted away. Look for more engaging aliens in books like Annette Curtis Klause’s Alien Secrets and a far more memorable fat kid in Kimberly

Willis Holt’s When Zachary Beaver Came To Town (1999). (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-08362-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2000

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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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