Airy but informative and sure to tempt young readers into taking closer looks at the buildings (and pigeons) around them.

READ REVIEW

ARCHITECTURE ACCORDING TO PIGEONS

A world tour of literal and figurative high spots in human construction, conducted by a feathered guide.

Pigeons are, as you know (now), great students of architecture. Here, expert Speck takes readers on a looping flight past more than two dozen structures, including roundup spreads of renowned skyscrapers and bridges. He offers enthusiastic exclamations (“Fully overawed!”) and occasional critical remarks—about, for instance, how Shah Jahan’s tomb unbalances the interior of the Taj Mahal. He also provides insights into how creative use of materials and design contribute to each structure’s purpose and emotional effect. Stops on the zigzag tour mix such usual suspects as the Great Pyramid at Giza, the Eiffel Tower and Fallingwater with Japan’s concrete Church of the Light, Le Corbusier’s Notre-Dame de Ronchamp, and the entire cities of Venice and Brasilia. Each gets a “pigeon name” as well as a human one (Canterbury Cathedral is “The Mish-Mash Marvel”) and is depicted in a collage illustration that mixes drawings and heavily processed photo fragments in arty ways. Mannered as they are, the distant views and inset close-ups do convey adequate senses of look and scale. An annotated pictorial index on the final spreads supplies further tidbits about the structures and their architects.

Airy but informative and sure to tempt young readers into taking closer looks at the buildings (and pigeons) around them. (Informational picture book. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7148-6389-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs.

WAYSIDE SCHOOL BENEATH THE CLOUD OF DOOM

Rejoice! 25 years later, Wayside School is still in session, and the children in Mrs. Jewls’ 30th-floor classroom haven’t changed a bit.

The surreal yet oddly educational nature of their misadventures hasn’t either. There are out-and-out rib ticklers, such as a spelling lesson featuring made-up words and a determined class effort to collect 1 million nail clippings. Additionally, mean queen Kathy steps through a mirror that turns her weirdly nice and she discovers that she likes it, a four-way friendship survives a dumpster dive after lost homework, and Mrs. Jewls makes sure that a long-threatened “Ultimate Test” allows every student to show off a special talent. Episodic though the 30 new chapters are, there are continuing elements that bind them—even to previous outings, such as the note to an elusive teacher Calvin has been carrying since Sideways Stories From Wayside School (1978) and finally delivers. Add to that plenty of deadpan dialogue (“Arithmetic makes my brain numb,” complains Dameon. “That’s why they’re called ‘numb-ers,’ ” explains D.J.) and a wild storm from the titular cloud that shuffles the school’s contents “like a deck of cards,” and Sachar once again dishes up a confection as scrambled and delicious as lunch lady Miss Mush’s improvised “Rainbow Stew.” Diversity is primarily conveyed in the illustrations.

Ordinary kids in an extraordinary setting: still a recipe for bright achievements and belly laughs. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296538-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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Formula horror from the 1990s still feels formulaic today.

GRAVE SECRETS

From the Deadtime Stories series , Vol. 1

The Deadtime Stories from the mid-1990s are rising again—this time in conjunction with a planned series of live-action TV-movies.

In this lightly edited reboot, preteen Amanda discovers an old doll buried in her backyard and shortly thereafter begins receiving ghostly messages written in sand or bathroom steam along the lines of “I want my baby back—now!” Then the doll disappears. Getting it back entails multiple encounters with Anna, the child ghost from whom it was stolen long ago, and the hostile, spooky old lady next door known to Amanda and friends as “Barnsey.” The shudders here are laboriously manufactured by contrived cliffhangers at each short chapter’s end, an obnoxious character who revels in sharing eerie rumors about Barnsey’s supposed witchy ways, nighttime expeditions into her yard and, particularly, with frequent screams: “And Kevin, who had been screaming his head off over Anna’s appearance, stopped screaming mid-scream the moment he saw Barnsey.” There’s no overt gore or violence, Anna fades away once she’s reunited with her doll and Barnsey, unsurprisingly, suddenly turns into a nice old lady.

Formula horror from the 1990s still feels formulaic today. (Horror. 9-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7653-3065-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Starscape/Tom Doherty

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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