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

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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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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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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