Overall, though, this unusual tale sends an appealing message about making the most of a bad situation.

TROLL WOOD

A funky little homeless family of refugees from a big city—hippie-ish mom, guitar-playing dad, boy, girl and white-haired granddad—discover the mysterious paths, strange creatures and hidden delights of Troll Wood, an abandoned forest.

In spite of the slightly sinister giant trolls, bits of whom peek out from surprising corners of every page, including the endpapers, the little family finds that the forgotten wood is a friendly place where they can find apples and plums to eat, flowers to pick, friendly animals to pet, and a house to fix up and live in. Hess’ softly textured illustrations in muted greens and browns nicely complement Cave’s simple but strangely compelling storyline. The poetic quality of the text, written largely in the second person, has a lyrical refrain that matches the mysterious mood of the story. Each page of short text ends with this refrain: “ ‘We will.’ And they did.” The final two spreads show the family’s can-do triumph. Unfortunately there is no attempt to synchronize the visual appearance of the text with the dreamy illustrations. The bland typeface and the unimaginative placement of much of the text in white boxes, while providing clarity, is a lost opportunity to integrate the type more closely with the illustrations. Given its nod to Where the Wild Things Are, it’s a shame the book doesn’t meet this particular design challenge with more elegance.

Overall, though, this unusual tale sends an appealing message about making the most of a bad situation. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84780-238-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more