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SQUEAKY AND THE STINKY MOUSE

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

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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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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TALES FOR VERY PICKY EATERS

Broccoli: No way is James going to eat broccoli. “It’s disgusting,” says James. Well then, James, says his father, let’s consider the alternatives: some wormy dirt, perhaps, some stinky socks, some pre-chewed gum? James reconsiders the broccoli, but—milk? “Blech,” says James. Right, says his father, who needs strong bones? You’ll be great at hide-and-seek, though not so great at baseball and kickball and even tickling the dog’s belly. James takes a mouthful. So it goes through lumpy oatmeal, mushroom lasagna and slimy eggs, with James’ father parrying his son’s every picky thrust. And it is fun, because the father’s retorts are so outlandish: the lasagna-making troll in the basement who will be sent back to the rat circus, there to endure the rodent’s vicious bites; the uneaten oatmeal that will grow and grow and probably devour the dog that the boy won’t be able to tickle any longer since his bones are so rubbery. Schneider’s watercolors catch the mood of gentle ribbing, the looks of bewilderment and surrender and the deadpanned malarkey. It all makes James’ father’s last urging—“I was just going to say that you might like them if you tried them”—wholly fresh and unexpected advice. (Early reader. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-14956-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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