ORANGE PEEL’S POCKET

Like the title item, Lewis’s latest is overstuffed and mildly mysterious. Orange Peel’s nickname, although it’s explained, seems unwieldy and unlikely. The overlong text is also awkward at times (“Their first stop was to Mr. Fan the tailor”). The reason Orange Peel wants information is no mystery. Embarrassed that she doesn’t know anything about where she was born when asked by classmates, she plans to discuss China at Show and Tell. The mystery comes in as Orange Peel and her adoptive Euro-American mom visit friendly local vendors who, like Orange Peel, are Chinese. Each shares a bit of information and then secretly slips something into her pocket. Why secretly? Why not just give her the small gifts openly? The gifts, of course, turn out to be the perfect props for her presentation. Zong’s acrylic paintings feature pleasantly rounded images and offer a touch of whimsy as Orange Peel imagines the landscapes described by her Chinese compatriots. Ultimately, though, this purposive picture book fails to create compelling characters or tell an intriguing tale. Earnest but disappointing. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8394-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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