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An irrepressible youth turns a missed opportunity into good fortune in this frenetic retelling of an African folktale from Aardema (This for That, 1997, etc.). When his father, the chief of his people, dies, Koi is out hunting and so misses the division of property among his brothers (including the distribution of ivory tusks), leaving him with a lone kola tree as his inheritance. Undeterred, Koi sees this as a chance to explore the world. On his journey, he encounters several creatures who are in need of assistance: a snake with a sick mother, a frantic army of ants fleeing the Forest Devil, and a penitent crocodile facing the wrath of the Rainmaker, whose dog he ate. Koi’s kola nuts are always the answer to the desperate animals’ prayers. When he comes upon the realm of Chief Fulikolli, a ragged Koi accepts the challenge of winning the hand of the chief’s daughter and one half of his chiefdom. With the aid of the grateful creatures, Koi performs three seemingly impossible tasks. Laced with the liberal humor that is Aardema’s hallmark, Koi’s story and his sturdy spirit will draw readers in, as will the many uses of the kola nut and the lesson of doing good for others. In Cepeda’s vibrant illustrations, the Liberian landscape glistens and its people dance across the page, while the last scene—of Koi as a chief—is a portrait of ebullience rewarded. (glossary) (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81760-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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Baker (Big Fat Hen, 1994, etc.) engages in more number play, posing ducklings in every combination of groups, e.g., “Splashing as they leap and dive/7 ducklings, 2 plus 5.” Using a great array of streaked and dappled papers, Baker creates a series of leafy collage scenes for the noisy, exuberant ducklings to fill, tucking in an occasional ladybug or other small creature for sharp-eyed pre-readers to spot. Children will regretfully wave goodbye as the ducks fly off in neat formation at the end of this brief, painless introduction to several basic math concepts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-292858-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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Big Brown Bear, with a natty bowler hat, is all set to paint the house in this cheerful Level 1 reader. Every page presents a full-color scene and a few words of easily predicted, often rhyming text: “Bear is big. Bear is brown. Bear goes up. He comes down.” Big Bear climbs a ladder with a pail of blue paint, while nearby, Little Bear plays with a ball and bat—“Oh no! Little Bear! Do not do that!” These are simple words, but sometimes challenging ones, e.g., there are two uses of up, as in climbing the ladder and washing up. The pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations provide nearly ideal context, while also amplifying the story. The format is attractive and practical, featuring large type on a white background that is placed for easy reading. Beginning readers will be amused by the gentle humor in the book, and feel accomplished to have tackled it themselves. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-201999-5

Page Count: 20

Publisher: Green Light/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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