Compassionate and imaginative (Picture book. 5-9)

THE CURIOUS FOX

A young fox wonders how he can discover what makes him unique in this big world.

After Fox wakes up he asks himself, “I wonder if I have a feature / that sets me ’part from other creatures?” Leaving his mother asleep in their den, he decides to find out. Fox recalls that whenever he has had any problem his first instinct is to sniff the problem out. He figures it must be his nose that makes him special, until he meets a hog with such a spectacular nose his own seems puny in comparison. The kindly hog agrees his nose is useful, but he yearns for a longer neck—rather like Fox’s. Encouraged, Fox continues feeling good about his neck until he meets…a giraffe! The story continues with Fox meeting creature after creature, all of which have better attributes than he. Tail down, he goes home and tells mother, “This day has been the worstest ever!” Mammy Fox consoles him but also guides him to understand how his remarkable journey has taught him important life lessons. McDonagh’s gentle rhyming couplets weave a sense of warmth into this Irish import, which is longer than what many North American readers will be accustomed to, frequently offering eight four-line stanzas in a double-page spread. O’Brien’s evocative illustrations balance the tone of the text. Young readers who wonder about their own individuality will easily identify with Fox’s quest.

Compassionate and imaginative (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-84730-682-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Veritas Publications/Dufour Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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