MY DUCK

A young girl’s struggle with the creative process is the focus of this zany tale. A class assignment to create a work of fiction is the impetus for the budding writer’s endeavors. Her initial efforts produce a tale about a duck with shoes. Unfortunately, the child’s teacher steadfastly rejects any stories involving literary flights of fancy and the girl resignedly consigns the elegantly shod duck to the scrap-paper heap. However, the spunky fowl takes matters into his own wings and resolutely continues on with his journey. Soon the young artist has a veritable character mutiny on her hands as a one-winged girl joins the duck and refuses to be written out of the story. Linch’s tale is wryly written with hilarious scenes depicting the girl earnestly explaining to her free-spirited creations that she must write a more practical story. One discordant note in the work is the oppressiveness of the teacher, who relentlessly attempts to squash the girl’s creative spirit and functions more as a one-dimensional caricature of an unimaginative adult. However, the child ingeniously creates an “acceptable” tale about a trip to the zoo while slyly incorporating her unique characters into the background pictures. Full-page illustrations, riotously colored, artfully convey the girl’s—and her characters’—uncompromising individuality. A humorous and inspiring exploration of the art of writing that encourages readers to give their imaginations free reign. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-439-20670-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE SLEIGH!

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies.

Pigeon finds something better to drive than some old bus.

This time it’s Santa delivering the fateful titular words, and with a “Ho. Ho. Whoa!” the badgering begins: “C’mon! Where’s your holiday spirit? It would be a Christmas MIRACLE! Don’t you want to be part of a Christmas miracle…?” Pigeon is determined: “I can do Santa stuff!” Like wrapping gifts (though the accompanying illustration shows a rather untidy present), delivering them (the image of Pigeon attempting to get an oversize sack down a chimney will have little ones giggling), and eating plenty of cookies. Alas, as Willems’ legion of young fans will gleefully predict, not even Pigeon’s by-now well-honed persuasive powers (“I CAN BE JOLLY!”) will budge the sleigh’s large and stinky reindeer guardian. “BAH. Also humbug.” In the typically minimalist art, the frustrated feathered one sports a floppily expressive green and red elf hat for this seasonal addition to the series—but then discards it at the end for, uh oh, a pair of bunny ears. What could Pigeon have in mind now? “Egg delivery, anyone?”

A stocking stuffer par excellence, just right for dishing up with milk and cookies. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781454952770

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Union Square Kids

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

CARPENTER'S HELPER

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story.

A home-renovation project is interrupted by a family of wrens, allowing a young girl an up-close glimpse of nature.

Renata and her father enjoy working on upgrading their bathroom, installing a clawfoot bathtub, and cutting a space for a new window. One warm night, after Papi leaves the window space open, two wrens begin making a nest in the bathroom. Rather than seeing it as an unfortunate delay of their project, Renata and Papi decide to let the avian carpenters continue their work. Renata witnesses the birth of four chicks as their rosy eggs split open “like coats that are suddenly too small.” Renata finds at a crucial moment that she can help the chicks learn to fly, even with the bittersweet knowledge that it will only hasten their exits from her life. Rosen uses lively language and well-chosen details to move the story of the baby birds forward. The text suggests the strong bond built by this Afro-Latinx father and daughter with their ongoing project without needing to point it out explicitly, a light touch in a picture book full of delicate, well-drawn moments and precise wording. Garoche’s drawings are impressively detailed, from the nest’s many small bits to the developing first feathers on the chicks and the wall smudges and exposed wiring of the renovation. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Renata’s wren encounter proves magical, one most children could only wish to experience outside of this lovely story. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12320-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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