HORRIBLE HARRY AND THE DRAGON WAR

Discord has come to the familiar friends in Room 3B. Miss Mackle has assigned a research project about animals from children’s books. Song Lee and Harry both want to study dragons. They are allowed to work together, which usually is a good plan for these cooperative classmates. However, when Harry’s dragon is the fire-breathing one of Arthurian legend, and Song Lee’s is the good-luck dragon of Korean mythology, the war begins. Harry uses the “s” word (stupid) to describe Song Lee’s creation. Fighting words for sure. What follows is a three-hour standoff that ends up involving all the boys and girls in 3B. The situation, reported through the voice of classmate Doug, is real and believable. Song Lee’s reaction to Henry’s word will spark a moment of uncomfortable recognition for any grade-school child: she completely rebuffs any apologetic overture and holds her stubborn position for three full hours, an eternity in the close quarters of a classroom. Remkiewicz’s signature illustrations add life to the argument and its realistic solution. While such situations might seem trivial to the adult observer, Kline, a former schoolteacher, hits the nail on the head once again by telling a real classroom story. She allows the young protagonists to solve their problems the way they often do, with light adult intervention, good intentions, and gentle forgiveness. Kline and her publisher understand the needs of emergent readers and provide them with a large font, frequent illustrations, and a familiar story. This is another fine story for the reader who is just ready for chapter books. (Easy reader. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 20, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03559-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2002

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TOMAS AND THE LIBRARY LADY

A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-80401-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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RIVER STORY

Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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