A classroom-friendly call for social activism somewhat marred by a too-adult voice.

HEY, WALL

A STORY OF ART AND COMMUNITY

Each day, a school-age child passes the neglected outer wall of what appears to be an abandoned movie theater in a diverse New York City neighborhood.

The streets bustle with kids, families, and traffic. Inside the child’s home the family hosts potlucks, and, on the roof, there is dancing and singing. These lively communal gatherings are in direct contrast to the blank, mute wall that everyone ignores—until the brown-skinned child takes charge. Together with neighbors and friends, armed with paint and sketches, they give life to their memories and imaginations. In no time at all, the wall is the neighborhood. Verde’s simple, expository, second-person narrative fluctuates between youthful exuberance and adult commentary as readers follow the tired wall through the seasons. “Soon we have filled you with colors, / creations, energy. / You are stone but you don’t have to be hard.” Parra’s familiar, flat matte illustrations chronicle the wall’s evolution until it reflects the neighborhood’s vibrancy back to the people who enliven its revitalized surface. Mural projects have often traditionally served as unifying forces within blighted, fragmented communities, but not in this case. The residents interact, are friendly, and are organically connected before the mural is planned. Since the unnamed child is the catalyst of this activity, it’s a pity the voice is not more consistently childlike.

A classroom-friendly call for social activism somewhat marred by a too-adult voice. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5313-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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