Florence’s purpose is clear: “Good food can save the day!” A worthy message, drawn perfectly by Frazier, whose illustrations...

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TYLER MAKES SPAGHETTI!

Florence and Frazier are back (Tyler Makes Pancakes!, 2012), this time with dinner as young Tyler learns about spaghetti—how to cook it and where its ingredients come from—in this masterfully illustrated story.

When Chef Lorenzo asks Tyler for help making spaghetti and meatballs, the burgeoning cook can’t wait to begin. Together they take an imaginary adventure to pick tomatoes from the vine, unearth onions, visit olive groves and witness the pressing process. Even cheese-making, from cow to curds and curing, is seen. But the author conveniently evades any explanation of the origin of the meatballs, which are presented pre-made. Ingredients assembled, the industrious Tyler creates a delicious dinner for his family, with each step of the cooking process described. Sadly, the text is labored, despite the author’s best intentions of connecting readers to food, land, and the people that create and care for both. However, Frazier’s strong pictorial narrative carries the day. As always, he exhibits exemplary skill at creating deceivingly simple illustrations with his exceptional ability to edit. The characters, often appearing as stick figures, are incredibly expressive, and the silhouettes offer both depth and insights into the text.

Florence’s purpose is clear: “Good food can save the day!” A worthy message, drawn perfectly by Frazier, whose illustrations could work without the words. (recipe, additional information) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-204756-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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