Not as strong as Mrs. Hartwell’s previous outings.

FIELD-TRIP FIASCO

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

Mrs. Hartwell, of first-day, last-day and standardized-test fame, is back, this time trying to survive a class field trip.

It’s taken some time for the teacher to get over the last class field trip, but with some preparation, this time she thinks she is ready. And over the course of the day at the zoo, she carefully follows her handwritten list of field-trip tips, but her “handy-dandy, just-in-case-something-unexpected-happens bag” still gets some use. From a bus-related delay and a few minor scrapes to a serious need for some paper towels and a change of clothes, pith-helmet–clad Mrs. Hartwell is prepared for any eventuality, including the need to change her own carefully made plans. Teachers will certainly see the humor and gentle lessons in Danneberg’s latest school story. The questions is, will kids be as engaged? The kids’ mishaps are just as tongue-in-cheek as ever, but behind them is the fact that Mrs. Hartwell’s writing assignment is keeping them from seeing some of the cool things the zoo animals are doing—maybe it’s revealing too many tips of the trade? Love’s illustrations are fun to peruse, and she masterfully portrays her characters’ every emotion. But while Eddie’s personality comes through loud and clear, the other students are rather generic, not like the class found in Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ Twelve Days series.

Not as strong as Mrs. Hartwell’s previous outings. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-671-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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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