A labored effort to squeeze a little more juice from a once-fresh gimmick.

READ REVIEW

IS THAT YOU, ALIEN?

CHECK INSIDE THE SECRET POCKETS IF YOU DARE

Intrepid readers who don’t mind slipping their hands into places without looking will get what they deserve from this backyard hunt for aliens.

Young Zak is sure that a spaceship has landed in his garden, so out into the night he goes to feel around, followed by a gaggle of skeptical friends wearing rubber alien masks. Mechanically reproducing a trick used to good effect in Is That You, Wolf? (2012) and with less success in sequels ever since, every other spread features a glued-on paper pocket with the legend: “Slide your hand in if you dare… / Alien may be lurking so BEWARE!” Inside each pocket is a patch of sticky tape, knobby plastic or some other textured material that unconvincingly suggests eyeballs, wrinkly skin, dribble or another supposedly scream-worthy substance. Despite broad prompts from both the narrative and the cartoon illustrations, few will be fooled—or, for that matter, startled when a slobbery green pop-up alien leaps out as the last spread is opened.

A labored effort to squeeze a little more juice from a once-fresh gimmick. (Novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7641-6712-6

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Barron's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.

WEDGIEMAN

A HERO IS BORN

From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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