A likely hit with young eco-activists, despite the bland visuals.

READ REVIEW

THE SODA BOTTLE SCHOOL

A Guatemalan community turns trash to treasure, thanks to a teacher’s “crazy idea.”

It all starts when Seño Laura, taking a break by the frame of a never-finished new school one day, notices that the soda bottle in her hand is the same width as the structural supports. Her principal, the children at the overcrowded local school and the other residents of Granados are quickly enlisted to gather thousands of discarded plastic bottles and stuff them with trash to create “eco-ladrillos” (bricks) and stack them into walls. Much hard work later—and much of it done by energetic young Fernando and other children—the village not only has a fine school, but has been thoroughly cleaned of litter to boot. Better yet, other communities have been inspired by Granados’ example to undertake similar projects of their own. Only some of the figures in Darragh’s very loose ink-and-watercolor illustrations have individualized features, and her pale palette doesn’t really capture the distinctively vibrant look of soda-bottle walls (a photo at the end offers a tantalizing glimpse). Nevertheless, this true story celebrates both the value of teamwork and a triumph of ingenious recycling.

A likely hit with young eco-activists, despite the bland visuals. (afterword) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-88448-371-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tilbury House

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun.

A IS FOR ANOTHER RABBIT

An obsessed narrator creates an alphabet book overrun with rabbits, much to the chagrin of an owl who wants to create a “proper, respectable” alphabet book.

The picture book begins, “A is for A rabbit,” an illustration of a large brown rabbit taking up most of the recto. The owl protagonist—presumably the co-creator of the book—points out that “rabbit” begins with “R.” “Yes, but “a rabbit” starts with A,” says the narrator, before moving on to “B is for bunny,” which, as the owl points out, is just another name for rabbit. Despite the owl’s mounting frustration, the narrator genially narrates several rabbits into existence on almost every single page, rendered with such variety that readers will find their proliferation endlessly amusing. The letter D, for instance, introduces readers to “delightful, dynamic, daredevil RABBITS!” (a herd of biker rabbits), and although the narrator says “E is for Elephant” (which momentarily satisfies the owl), the image depicts several rabbits poorly disguised as an elephant. Much to the owl’s chagrin and, ultimately, exhaustion, the narrator grows more and more creative in their presentation of their favorite animal as the picture book proceeds down a rabbit hole of…well, rabbits! Batsel’s debut picture book for readers already familiar with the English alphabet is funny and highly entertaining. The whimsical narrative and the colorful images make this an excellent elementary-age read-aloud.

Creative, comedic, and carrot-loads of fun. (Picture book. 4-8)/p>)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5415-2950-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Too thin to fly as either tour or tribute but a memorable showcase nonetheless for a talented French paper artist.

MARY POPPINS UP, UP AND AWAY

From the Up, Up and Away series

Silhouettes, both printed and laser-cut, add sparkle to a quick tour of London sites and starry skies conducted by Mary Poppins.

Michael and Jane are thrilled when their nanny (literally) drops in on the end of a kite string, and spit-spot they’re off to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Piccadilly—followed by an undersea visit and a flight through comet-filled skies to a circus of constellations. As the text, translated without credit from the original French, is confined to a few wooden couplets along the lines of “On Cherry Tree Lane, it’s a nice day to dream… / To walk in the park or to eat an ice cream,” the stars of the show are Druvert’s illustrations. The black, cut pages are designed to be flipped back and forth to fill in printed cityscapes, marine scenes, and speckled firmaments with fine detail. The marvelous intricacy of the cutout fences, ironwork, trees, strands of seaweed, and small human figures leaves those pages too fragile to survive even moderately careless handling intact, but the intensely black overlay (along with a subtle use of gray tones in the backgrounds) creates a sense of depth and, often, an evocative shimmer of light. A large die-cut window in the front cover offers a hint of the visual pleasures within.

Too thin to fly as either tour or tribute but a memorable showcase nonetheless for a talented French paper artist. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-500-65104-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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