Like the story’s heroine, transitioning readers may feel they are taking a step up to big-kid literature. Just so.

FIRE PIE TROUT

A fishing trip with Gramps helps a little girl feel grown-up.

Very early in the morning, Grace and her Gramps pack all their worms and tackle as well as their favorite lunch—fire pie!—and set off through the fog to their favorite fishing spot. The excited Grace actually rolls down the hill to get to the riverbank. She watches Grampie put a worm on his hook, but taking pity on the creature, she “set[s] the wiggler free” and decides to try an empty hook. Gramps catches two big trout as Grace’s line sits undisturbed in the water. She pulls another worm out of her jar but just can’t bring herself to hook it. Maybe she’s too young to go fishing. Then she gets an idea. She breaks off a bit of crust from her fire pie which, for the first time, readers see is leftover pizza. Almost immediately, Grace finds herself in a big tug of war with a speckled trout, and she wins! Joyfully, Grace realizes that she’s not too young for fishing. And Grampie couldn’t be more proud of her. The handsomely designed book has substantial text and nicely composed illustrations. Though it is not an early reader, simple vocabulary, repetition and uncomplicated sentence structure make it a good choice for beginning readers.

Like the story’s heroine, transitioning readers may feel they are taking a step up to big-kid literature. Just so. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-927083-18-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Fifth House

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen.

BEING YOU

Words addressed to children aimed at truth-telling, encouraging, and inspiring are accompanied by pictures of children of color going about their days.

“This story is about you,” the narrator opens, as a black boy looks up toward readers, a listening expression on his face. A multiracial group of children romp in a playground to encouraging words: “you are… / a dancer / a singer / in charge of the game.” Then comes a warning about the “whispers” out in the world that “tell you who you are / But only you and love decide.” There is advice about what to do when you “think there is nowhere safe”: “Watch a bird soar / and think, / Me too.” It asks readers to wonder: “If there was a sign on your chest / what would it say?” Children argue and show frustration and anger for reasons unclear to readers, then they hold up signs about themselves, such as “I am powerful” and “I am talented.” A girl looks hurt, and a boy looks “tough” until someone finds them “sitting there wondering / when the sky will blue.” While the words are general, the pictures specify a teacher, who is brown-skinned with straight black hair, as one who “can see you.” While young readers may find the wording unusual, even obscure in places, the nurturing message will not be lost.

Heartfelt content for children who need to feel seen. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-021-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more