A sweet animal tale effectively conveys a basic but important message.

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SQUEAKY AND THE STINKY MOUSE

A debut picture book, the first installment of a series, features an adventurous mouse.

In Cash’s morality tale, Squeaky is a skilled scavenger who refuses to share his bounty with a stinky fellow mouse who comes begging at his door. That evening, when Squeaky forages, food is scarce, but he is drawn to his favorite smell—cheese. Most readers will likely anticipate what Squeaky does not: the tantalizing tidbit is the bait for a trap. In deference to young readers, activating the device produces a net, not a neck-breaking snap! Squeaky is rescued by the stinky mouse, whom he feels obligated to invite to his home for a meal. First the guest—his name is now revealed to be Whiskers—bathes and amazingly loses his stench. When asked, Whiskers reveals that his mother taught him to help when he could, because someday he might need aid, too. The illustrations by Smith—the author’s English teacher brother—are as uncomplicated and straightforward as the text, with the drab mouse world enlivened by the bright colors of the kitchen of the “People.” Each drawing, uniformly centered at the top of the page with text beneath, sports a bright blue border. Rather than boring, the homogeny and simplicity of the text and art should be comforting to the target audience (ages 4 to 7). While the story’s point is of the “do unto others” variety, a worthy anti-discriminatory theme also emerges.

A sweet animal tale effectively conveys a basic but important message.

Pub Date: July 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63183-070-9

Page Count: 25

Publisher: Mountain Arbor Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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