Wells (Yoko, 1998, etc.) makes numbers fun and relevant to daily life in this longer than usual picture book. Emily’s teacher promises that her class will have a special celebration on the 100th day of school. Every day the children write a new number in their number books and Emily includes it in a story. Those one- or two-sentence stories tell about Emily’s lessons in school, the antics of her friends and family, and her thoughts and feelings as she lives through these hundred days. Each of the little stories says a lot in a few words: “Eloise is thirteen years old. She thinks she knows everything.” Some stories have specific references that children may not know, but Wells gives them context through the illustrations. For the number sixteen, grandpa and grandma play “Sixteen Tons” and the first line of the music and words dance above their heads. Wells’s ink and watercolor drawings of effervescent little animals with human characteristics are familiar to her readers and sure to bring a smile. The variety of the page design, bold colors, movement, and humor create interest and liveliness. Some numbers have a full-page spread; others share the page. Pages may have frames or borders filled with objects related to the story; others have color extended to the corners. Every page is filled with details, but the numbers stand out, as do the many counting opportunities, making this a delightful learning opportunity. It also fulfills a need for teachers who follow the well-known mathematical pedagogy program that the celebration describes. Delicious! (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7868-0507-2

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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It breaks no new ground, but even the worms are smiling.



One empty lot needs two helping hands, three days of cleanup, and so on to become a community garden “full of delicious!”

In, mostly, aerial or elevated views, Vidal’s bright, painted illustrations track the lot’s transformation from a (tidy-looking, admittedly) dumping ground behind a rusty chain-link fence. Echoing the multiethnic and multiracial nature of the group of neighbors who gather to do the work (white-presenting figures are in the minority), the eventual crops include bok choy, collard greens, and kittley along with beans, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes—all of which end up incorporated in the climactic spread into a community dinner spread out on tables among the planting boxes. Typically of such garden-themed picture-book tributes, the spirit of community and joy at the eventual bounty elbow out any real acknowledgement of the necessary sweat equity (there’s not even a glancing reference to weeding here, for instance) or the sense of an entire season’s passing between planting and harvest. Also, as that public feast is created by considerably more than “Ten newfound friends,” the counting is just a conceit. Mullen closes with notes on the actual garden in Minneapolis that inspired her and on making gardens bee-friendly.

It breaks no new ground, but even the worms are smiling. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-58089-889-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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