A zippy piece for readers who share Billy’s tastes.

BILLY'S BOOGER

A boy funnels enthusiasm for monster movies, outer space, and snot into making a picture book for a school contest.

Back “when TV was in black and white, and there were only three channels,” a kid named Billy revels in the newspaper’s “funny papers” and in turning the numerals on his math paper into dinosaurs. Unfortunately, his math gets failing grades because the actual answers are incorrect. Even sports and supper bring out Billy’s wild side: pingpong paddle in mouth, scuba flippers on feet, mashed-potato–and-peas sculptures on his plate. “Your son has been very odd as of late,” says a school note to his parents. Then the school librarian announces a book-making contest. Billy researches “meteors, mythology, space travel, and mucus” and produces Billy’s Booger: The memories of a little green nose buddy, in which a meteorite crashes into Billy’s head, causing the titular little green guy to emerge—“BONK!!”—and become “Super Booger,” who specializes in math. Billy becomes a superhero too, specializing in invisibility and turning peas into chocolate. Joyce re-creates Booger here from a real book he wrote in fourth grade, preserving its manila-paper look and binding it into the middle of this book. The portions before and after, in contrast, feature zestful collage overlappings and retro-style illustration that slyly evokes old-school primers.

A zippy piece for readers who share Billy’s tastes. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7351-5

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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