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

READ REVIEW

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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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

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers.

BAGEL IN LOVE

A romance for carb (and pun!) lovers who dance to their own drummers and don’t give up on their dreams.

Bagel is a guy who loves to dance; when he’s tapping and twirling, he doesn’t feel plain. The problem is, he can’t find a partner for the Cherry Jubilee Dance Contest. Poppy says his steps are half-baked. Pretzel, “who was at the spa getting a salt rub…told him his moves didn’t cut the mustard.” He strikes out in Sweet City, too, with Croissant, Doughnut, and Cake. But just when he’s given up, he hears the music from the contest and can’t help moving his feet. And an echoing tap comes back to him. Could it be a partner at last? Yep, and she just happens to smell sweet and have frosting piled high. Bagel and Cupcake crush the contest, but winning the trophy? That “was just icing on the cake,” as the final sentence reads, the two standing proudly with a blue ribbon and trophy, hearts filling the space above and between them. Dardik’s digital illustrations are pastel confections. Sometimes just the characters’ heads are the treats, and other times the whole body is the foodstuff, with tiny arms and legs added on. Even the buildings are like something from “Hansel and Gretel.” However, this pun-filled narrative is just one of many of its ilk, good for a few yuks but without much staying power.

In contrast to the carbs and desserts pictured, though sweet, this is unlikely to stick with readers. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2239-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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