A FINE, FINE SCHOOL

School can be peachy, but that doesn’t mean time away from school isn’t just as valuable, which is the lesson Principal Keene has to learn in this charming story of a school administrator utterly rapt in his job. Mr. Keene just can’t get enough of his fine school with all that fine learning being taught by the fine teachers to the fine students. So he decides to have school on Saturday, then Sunday, then on holidays, then the whole year through: “He was so proud of the students and the teachers, of all the learning they were doing every day.” Literally. But the students and teachers aren’t so sanguine about the situation, though no one wanted to prick Mr. Keene’s balloon. Until Tillie finally tells him that some others are not learning because of all the school, like her dog, who hasn’t learned how to sit, or her little brother, who hasn’t learned how to swing or skip, because she’s never home to teach them. Indeed, she hasn’t learned to climb a tree for all the classroom time she’s been putting in. Mr. Keene sees the light, beveling his enthusiasm and putting his good intentions into perspective. Creech’s text capably moves the story forward, but it has all the humor of a stoat and the repetitions are overmuch. Yet Bliss (Girl of the Shining Mountain, 1999, etc.) comes through not just to save the day, but to make the story memorable, with appealing characters and numerous silly sight gags and verbal asides, like the post-it notes that read “Massive Quiz Saturday” and “Power Nap 2 pm,” the photo in the kid’s locker from his parents signed “We Miss You Son!” and the TV screen that reads “The Best Cartoons in the World Start in 5 Minutes!!” just as Tillie is shuffling out the door to school on Christmas. Just fine. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-027736-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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