LOOSE TOOTH

The questionable co-optation of cherished characters from classic children’s literature continues, exemplified by this third entry by Suen and Eitzen in the Peter’s Neighborhood series (Willie’s Birthday, 2001, etc.). Peter, hero of the beloved Ezra Jack Keats classics The Snowy Day and Peter’s Chair, is in third or fourth grade now, and he has a couple of mild problems. He wants his loose tooth to stay connected until school-picture day is over, and he wants a new basketball, but hasn’t saved enough money to cover the cost. Peter and his friends from various Keats stories (Amy, Archie, and Lily) play a game of pick-up basketball on the playground with four other kids, and Peter’s tooth falls out after he trips and falls. He cheerfully decides to “say cheese” for his school picture, knowing that he’ll have enough money to buy a basketball after a visit from the tooth fairy. The sturdy but unexceptionable storyline lacks the flair of original work by Keats, and Eitzen’s imitative illustrations are only a pale echo of Keatsian genius. Still, the third title in a series implies a certain level of success, so the series may well continue as Peter and his friends grow up. (Imagine the YA titles to follow: A Letter to Peter from Amy, Dreams in Apt. 3, and after Peter and Amy settle down together to raise a family, Peter’s Rocking Chair.) (Easy reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-670-03536-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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