Sure to cause a BUZZ in classes, provided the teacher can get through reading it aloud.



Cleary expands his language arts books with this look at onomatopoeia.

Mrs. Garcia’s class is ready and eager for the day: butterfly nets, cameras, notebooks, magnifying glasses, and headwear that includes both deerstalker caps and pith helmets. “One day every year, the students go out on a hunt— / a favorite exercise of Mrs. Garcia— / to search the grounds and school / for something interesting and cool: / it’s what is known as onomatopoeia.” This abccb pattern makes for a tough read-aloud, as the meter and rhythm are off. But Cleary certainly gets points for enthusiasm and establishes himself as a credible contender for the record for most onomatopoeic words in one picture book. Set off in all-caps and a colored display type, each “SNAP,” “CLANG,” “FLUTTER,” and “WHIRR” stands out. The kids, a highly diverse group (two different brown-skinned girls depicted wear the hijab), go through and around the school visiting all the different classrooms and areas and collecting sounds—the gym, the science lab, the farm next door, the music room, even the bathroom (“FLUSH,” “TINKLE!”). But the exuberant book ends on a rather abrupt, even dampening note when the principal, certain the students who are sharing their words so loudly and enthusiastically are misbehaving, gives them one final one for their collection: “SHOOSH!” Pino’s pencil and Photoshop illustration are bright, detailed, and busy. Readers will find lots to pore over.

Sure to cause a BUZZ in classes, provided the teacher can get through reading it aloud. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4677-8799-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Piggie is “one lucky pig,” and she’s determined to make sure she thanks “everyone who is important to” her in this, the final Elephant & Piggie book.

Gerald is sure his friend will forget someone—“someone important”—but Piggie assures him, “It will be a THANK-O-RAMA!” Piggie proceeds to thank the Squirrels for their great ideas, Snake for playing ball, and the Pigeon “for never giving up.” Piggie thanks and thanks: “I am a thanking machine!” She thanks character after character, even the Flies (“Any time, dude!”), as Gerald continues to interject that she’ll forget “someone VERY important.” Finally Piggie runs out of thanks, and by this time Gerald is steamed. “I goofed,” Piggie says in itty-bitty type, before lavishing thanks on Gerald. But that’s not whom Piggie forgot to thank! A classic Willems tantrum later, Gerald reveals the “someone important”: “Our reader.” Of course. “We could not be ‘us’ without you,” says Gerald, earnestly looking out from the page, and Piggie chimes in, “You are the best!” As Elephant & Piggie books go, this isn’t one of the strongest, but it is a validating valediction to fans of the two characters, who have won Willems two Geisel Medals and five Honors. Yes, Gerald and Piggie have ushered countless readers into literacy, but as they rightly note, reading is a collaborative act.

Thank you, Gerald and Piggie. We’ll miss you . (Early reader. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7828-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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Sweet—and savory.


When a girl visits her grandmother, a writer and “grand friend,” she is seeking something special to share at show and tell on the first day of school.

Before Brook can explain, Mimi expresses concern that certain words describing the natural world will disappear if someone doesn’t care for and use them. (An author’s note explains the author’s motivation: She had read of the removal of 100 words about outdoor phenomena from the Oxford Junior Dictionary.) The duo sets out to search for and experience the 19 words on Mimi’s list, from “acorn” and “buttercup” to “violet” and “willow.” Kloepper’s soft illustrations feature green and brown earth tones that frame the white, matte pages; bursts of red, purple, and other spot colors enliven the scenes. Both Mimi and Brook are depicted as white. The expedition is described in vivid language, organized as free verse in single sentences or short paragraphs. Key words are printed in color in a larger display type and capital letters. Sensory details allow the protagonist to hear, see, smell, taste, and hold the wild: “ ‘Quick! Make a wish!’ said Mimi, / holding out a DANDELION, / fairy dust sitting on a stem. / ‘Blow on it and the seeds will fly. / Your tiny wishes in the air.’ ” It’s a day of wonder, with a touch of danger and a solution to Brook’s quest. The last page forms an envelope for readers’ own vocabulary collections.

Sweet—and savory. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-7073-2

Page Count: 62

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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