A fine choice for newly independent and reluctant readers, featuring good-natured characters, a well-intentioned mutt, and...

ROSCO THE RASCAL IN THE LAND OF SNOW

A young German shepherd and his human family bound into snowy adventure in the second chapter book in Gorian’s (Rosco the Rascal Visits the Pumpkin Patch, 2014) series, with illustrations by Webb (Beautiful Brown, 2018, etc.).

Rosco, a 2-year-old dog, is full of exuberant, youthful energy; although he’s full grown, he’s still learning how to behave like his family wants. When they all travel into the mountains for a vacation, Rosco can’t help making mistakes: He ruins second-grader Mandy’s perfect snow angel; leaves paw prints all over her and fifth-grader James’ snowman (and steals its carrot nose); and accidentally drags Mandy down a sledding hill at a frightening speed. But when the kids stumble upon an angry mother coyote that’s trying to rescue her pup from a trap, Rosco stands between them and danger. The narrative shows the vacation from the perspectives of various characters, including Rosco himself, and offers details of potentially unfamiliar tasks, such as putting on snow tires. The Caucasian kids get along better than most fictional siblings; they’re well-behaved and hardly argue. Webb’s black-and-white images are spaced frequently enough to comfort independent readers who might be intimidated by books without any pictures. Their quality, though, is a bit uneven, and some feel unfinished, such as a hard-lined image of the coyote mother. The language is perfunctory rather than artful, but Gorian writes in a concise, simple style that budding readers will find accessible.

A fine choice for newly independent and reluctant readers, featuring good-natured characters, a well-intentioned mutt, and an outdoor rescue mission.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-06003-2

Page Count: 112

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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