Zany, naïve sketches complement a sure-fire winner. Stuart is about to enter third grade in his new town of Punbury. Is he worried? You betcha. “What if there were man-eating spiders in his new bedroom closet? Or a man eating spiders? What if he got lost? What if no one wanted to be his friend?” While waiting anxiously for school to begin, Stuart decides he wants to have an adventure and, in order to do so, he needs a cape. Ever ingenious, he fashions one out of ties and staples, adding a purple sock for a secret pocket. Voilà! The cape is just the thing for inviting adventures of all kinds: a dinosaur, horse, and a gorilla teach him how to play pretend; Aunt Bubbles’s angel food cake allows him to fly; a catapulted pound cake brings him to earth again; and he finds his soul mate in the person of a garbage man who had been temporarily turned into a cat. The wackiness prevails, right until it is time for Stuart to start school. Pennypacker’s obvious plays on words are perfect for young readers just beginning to read chapter books. Ample white space, generous font, familiar vocabulary, Matje’s (A Pig Named Perrier, p. 428, etc.) frequent goofy illustrations, and over-the-top situations will leave young readers wishing they had a magic cape. Readers who like Captain Underpants have a new choice, one that will make them howl and will not make their parents squirm. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-439-30180-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002


At ``Step 2'' in the useful ``Step into Reading'' series: an admirably clear, well-balanced presentation that centers on wolves' habits and pack structure. Milton also addresses their endangered status, as well as their place in fantasy, folklore, and the popular imagination. Attractive realistic watercolors on almost every page. Top-notch: concise, but remarkably extensive in its coverage. A real bargain. (Nonfiction/Easy reader. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-91052-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992


Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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