An engrossing episode, infused with magic and with moments light and dark as well as lots of small furry animals.

THE MIDSUMMER TOMTE AND THE LITTLE RABBITS

A DAY-BY-DAY SUMMER STORY IN TWENTY-ONE SHORT CHAPTERS

The gruff but large-hearted Scandinavian gnome usually associated with Yuletide takes an offseason turn when a summer storm brings a company of homeless woodland creatures to his door.

Faithfully tending to a cottage that has had no human residents for many years, the aptly named Grump faces the prospect of losing his sole companion, a wise bee met in The Yule Tomte and the Little Rabbits (2014). Meanwhile, along with talk of the coming of midsummer in the tumultuous Rabbit clan, young Binny is smitten with newly met Rory—portrayed in Eriksson’s cozy, slightly soft-focus illustrations as a bunny with significantly darker fur than Binny’s and her family’s. The idyllic opening scenes take on a dramatic cast with the wild storm, into which Rory intrepidly slogs to rescue Father Rabbit’s prized hat. A falling tree leaves Rory at death’s door, but he recovers in time to join in a joyous midsummer frolic around a maypole and, with the red-capped tomte presiding, be married to Binny. In a series of sweet closing chapters, Grump’s grumpiness is forever banished by a midsummer’s dance with a fairy, and by summer’s end there’s a pair of new little bunnies to dandle on his knees. Stark’s simple, dreamy prose and the idyllic gatherings centering on the kindly tomte seamlessly combine to create a superb candidate for reading aloud.

An engrossing episode, infused with magic and with moments light and dark as well as lots of small furry animals. (Illustrated fantasy. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78250-244-9

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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