SOLOMON THE RUSTY NAIL

In yet another delightfully inventive picture book, Steig combines a tale of uncanny transformation with his distinctively animated illustrations. By coincidence, Solomon the rabbit scratches his nose and wiggles his toes simultaneously—and a marvelous metamorphosis occurs: he discovers that he's capable of turning himself into a nail. Fueled by this unique ability, Solomon proceeds to test the trick on unsuspecting friends, who are baffled, and at home, where he mystifies everyone. But the thrill of the prank grows dull as time passes, and Solomon concentrates on Parcheesi and collecting butterflies. One summer day, while Solomon is searching for rare butterfly specimens in a meadow, he meets a most unpleasant stranger—Ambrose, a one-eyed cat. Armed with a knife, Ambrose is ready to march Solomon home to cook for supper. It's a frightful predicament but suddenly Solomon remembers his magic trick and vanishes. Ambrose, whose surly demeanor would frighten anyone, marches off in a rather confused state. Solomon reappears prematurely and is spotted by the cat, who pockets him as a nail and takes him away, not quite understanding the strange turn of events. Clorinda, his portly wife, doesn't really believe Ambrose's tale, but they put the nail in a padlocked cage in anticipation of fresh rabbit stew. As the days pass, the two become increasingly frustrated, and Ambrose eventually hammers Solomon into the side of the house in a fit of rage. Being a nail imbedded in a wall is a new experience for Solomon and he copes as best he can, though a pervading sense of loneliness permeates his reverie. A stroke of good fortune luckily occurs and Solomon returns home to his astounded family. Children will love this bizarre tale with its humorous drawings and lively sense of fun. Steig continues to create enchanting pictures in the style that has brought him international popularity.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1985

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1985

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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