MY FATHER'S BOAT

From Garland (The Last Rainmaker, 1997, etc.), a treasure for readers to open again and again, for the beauty of the lyrical prose, and the powerful, bittersweet story of family love. Before sunrise, a Vietnamese immigrant and his son set out on a fishing boat to catch shrimp off the Texas coast. Evoked are the sounds and scent of the sea, the hard work of the fishermen, and the loving relationships between generations. The boy notices that “it feels lonely, out on the sea, but my father says that is part of a fisherman’s life—being alone with the ocean and sky and creatures living below, and alone with your memories.” When they stop to eat cold rice and sip hot tea, the father sings songs he learned in Vietnam, and tells his son about his own fisherman father: “He taught me all I am teaching you. But when the war came to our little village on the other side of the world, he could not leave the land he loved, and I could not stay.” On the road home, the tired boy sleeps, dreaming “that they are together: my grandfather, father, and I—out on the lonely sea in my father’s beautiful boat.” Acrylic and watercolor illustrations extend the mood of the story, from the fog-enshrouded first spread of sunrise to full daylight the following day, and endpapers of white gulls whirling against the magenta sky. Beautiful and compelling. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-590-47867-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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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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