This sympathetic portrayal of a boy struggling with school has an audience.

READ REVIEW

TREVOR LEE AND THE BIG UH OH!

Third grader Trevor Lee makes every effort to avoid revealing that he still can’t read.

Educator Blevins directly addresses the shame of reading difficulties in this middle-grade novel. Trevor Lee is “as good at reading as a fish is good at climbing a cactus,” but his teacher, Miss Burger, wants every child to read aloud at the upcoming Parents’ Night. To help readers understand the challenge Trevor Lee faces, the author includes the story they’ll perform: “The Little Red Hen and Her Lazy-Butt Friends.” The humor of the narrative extends beyond the many references to body parts: Trevor Lee’s fear of reading in public is matched by his fear of the wrath of his farming family’s rooster. Both lead him to ridiculous actions. Further, his best friend, Pinky, is always at hand to add more trouble—as when they fail to follow field-trip rules and end up stuck in a tree. Happily, some extra instruction from the teacher and the support of his parents and nonreading Mamaw help him rise to the big occasion. Each short chapter is illustrated with grayscale drawings, often a head shot of the freckle-faced white boy, and ends with a comment in Trevor Lee’s own words: “Some days lay a big rotten egg.” His folksy language reflects his rural Tennessee origins, but his repeated expressions of distaste for girls limit the book’s appeal. Pinky is depicted as a child of color, Miss Burger presents white, and his classmates are diverse.

This sympathetic portrayal of a boy struggling with school has an audience. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947159-06-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: One Elm Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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