THE BEE TREE

In Malaysia, the yearly wild-honey hunts take place on moonless nights when the bees can’t see the men who climb the tualang, the tall bee trees. The hunters take special care not to upset the ecosystem that supports the giant honey bees, since the pollinating keystone species affects many of the plants and animals of the region. The authors and illustrator watched as a traditional hunter Pak Teh and his grandson, Nizam, ascended the tall ladders, lit the flames that scare the bees away for a few hours and harvested the honey from the heavy combs attached to the tree limbs. They turned their unique experience into a fictional picture book with a coming-of-age theme filled with wondrous double-spread paintings, depicting daily life today in a Malaysian village (the boy wears a T-shirt with an “All Stars” slogan; the grandfather wears traditional clothing), the rich rainforest, the legends of the honey bees and the stages of the honey hunt. The story is replete with authentic details, but the fascinating factual backmatter (written in a more adult tone and printed in a smaller typeface) and inclusion of small paintings from the artist’s sketchbook and photographs should have been presented in a more accessible format. (Picture book. 7-11)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-938317-98-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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