Because her friends’ parents think her dangerous, nine-year-old Blue Jay Girl tries to change her nature to that of a careful quail, but the tribal healer and her husband help her adopt careful ways without sacrificing her boldness. In a leisurely, storytelling fashion, the narrator describes Blue Jay Girl’s dawning recognition of her outsider status and the events that led up to it. Being bold, like a blue jay, she takes actions that solve her problem, visiting the tribal spiritual leader and then returning regularly to care for and learn from his aging wife, the medicine woman. Blue Jay Girl’s Yaudanchi language is sprinkled throughout. A pronunciation guide in the beginning omits the number words that head each chapter; the necessary glossary is at the end. Glossy illustrations reminiscent of Gauguin reflect the author-illustrator’s early experience as a painter for Disney. While the story is appropriate for middle-grade readers and listeners, the afterword, recounting this central Californian Native American culture’s sad history, is definitely for adults. An appealing window into a long-ago world. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59714-127-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Heyday

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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McDonald’s irrepressible third-grader (Judy Moody Gets Famous, 2001, etc.) takes a few false steps before hitting full stride. This time, not only has her genius little brother Stink submitted a competing entry in the Crazy Strips Band-Aid design contest, but in the wake of her science teacher’s heads-up about rainforest destruction and endangered animals, she sees every member of her family using rainforest products. It’s all more than enough to put her in a Mood, which gets her in trouble at home for letting Stink’s pet toad, Toady, go free, and at school for surreptitiously collecting all the pencils (made from rainforest cedar) in class. And to top it off, Stink’s Crazy Strips entry wins a prize, while she gets . . . a certificate. Chronicled amusingly in Reynolds’s frequent ink-and-tea drawings, Judy goes from pillar to post—but she justifies the pencil caper convincingly enough to spark a bottle drive that nets her and her classmates not only a hundred seedling trees for Costa Rica, but the coveted school Giraffe Award (given to those who stick their necks out), along with T-shirts and ice cream coupons. Judy’s growing corps of fans will crow “Rare!” right along with her. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7636-1446-7

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

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The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the...


From the Sir Seth Thistlethwaite series , Vol. 2

Two imaginative 10-year-old boys embark on a disbelief-suspending adventure in this second of a series.

Sir Seth, Sir Ollie and Seth’s “steed,” Shasta (his dog in a realer world), discover Puddlewater Pond is draining down into a netherworld, the Queendom of Claire, populated by short Khaboumians, the evil ogre Ooz, his tree-eating dinosaur and some almost-flying umbies. These creatures are coming into conflict, creating confusion, consternation and complete chaos.  Most of the narrative consists of frequent alliteration, puns and embedded rhyming words that don’t scan into poetry. “Sir Ollie stuttered with surprise, his eyes the size of banana cream pies,” for example. A certain amount of this is amusing; after several pages, it simply becomes unbecomingly uneven, creating a nearly noxious narrative. Some of the concepts are strangely Seuss-like: The Umbies travel in pairs, under-umbies under over-umbies that use their apparently otherwise useless wings to provide shade for their under-umbies. Chuggamugga bugs, like mugs with legs, carry water for wayward desert wanderers. While the pace of the plot careens, its superficiality is strangely startling. Cartoonish black-and-white illustrations add an amusing aura to a plethora of pages.

The potential strength of this presentation would be as a read-aloud to grade-schoolers, who would, no doubt, enjoy the difficulties the adult reader would encounter, wading through all the wacky words. (Fantasy. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-926818-94-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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