A success on two levels that’s worthy of repeat readings.

KECKO THE GECKO

From the We Both Read series

A story about a boy and his gecko helps beginning readers develop confidence and fluency.

Relatively complex text on the left-hand page paired with two lines of simpler text in a larger font on the right-hand page invites shared reading between caregiver and learner (as explained in a foreword). Challenging words highlighted in bold on the left are used again on the right, reinforcing the concept and encouraging success. The text reads smoothly whether children are reading just the right-hand page or hearing and reading the entire story. Plot is not sacrificed to this instructional format. When Matt, a brown-skinned boy with straight black hair, sneaks his new pet into school, his classmates, a diverse group, display a range of reactions to the predictable chaos that ensues while at the same time supporting their friend in his secret. Kim at first holds Kecko and manages to keep from shrieking when his tail breaks off in her hand. (Matt explains gecko physiology to reassure her.) A boy’s response to a gecko on the wall is simply “cool.” These somewhat stereotypical responses are balanced by all the children’s efforts to keep their teacher, a light-skinned woman, from discovering the escapee. Tension builds when Kecko lands in Mrs. Jackson’s hair and then when she just barely avoids sitting on him. When she finely learns the cause of the uproar, she turns the surprise visitor into a teaching opportunity.

A success on two levels that’s worthy of repeat readings. (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60115-304-3

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Treasure Bay

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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