A sophisticated concept that will require some active teaching to communicate it.

THE SUN PLAYED HIDE-AND-SEEK

A PERSONIFICATION STORY

An illustrated primer that explains personification even as it employs it.

Cleary here tackles the concept of personification with the graphic assistance of Dublin-based illustrator Crimmins, making her picture-book debut. While other classmates are assigned “similes” and “puns,” Cleary’s primary-grade first-person speaker must give a presentation on the heady topic of personification, “something that gives human traits to stuff that isn’t people”—not exactly Webster’s definition but descriptive enough to get the creative wheels turning. Speaking in rhymed verse, the young girl reveals: “That ‘stuff’ could be a garbage truck, December, or the wind— / a noun that has no heartbeat, eyes, or mouth. / It compares what something does to things that people do, / like ‘Angry storms are marching through the South.’ ” Crimmins subtly doubles down on the fun with playful mixed-media illustrations, which depict a diverse classroom. Amber D. (a white girl assigned “similes”) holds a raspberry-pink lunchbox that features the face of a pig and says “hungry as a…,” while Angelo (a black boy tasked with “puns”) sports a T-shirt emblazoned with a strawberry-iced doughnut ringed by the cheery message “donut worry be happy.” Though Cleary cleverly employs numerous examples of personification as his speaker (who has light-brown skin, brown hair, and freckles) works through her project, they beg the question whether the children most likely to understand the concept will appreciate the picture-book format.

A sophisticated concept that will require some active teaching to communicate it. (Picture book. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2648-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook/Lerner

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative,...

THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

From the Legendary Alston Boys series , Vol. 1

Can this really be the first time readers meet the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County? Cousins and veteran sleuths Otto and Sheed Alston show us that we are the ones who are late to their greatness.

These two black boys are coming to terms with the end of their brave, heroic summer at Grandma’s, with a return to school just right around the corner. They’ve already got two keys to the city, but the rival Epic Ellisons—twin sisters Wiki and Leen—are steadily gaining celebrity across Logan County, Virginia, and have in hand their third key to the city. No way summer can end like this! These young people are powerful, courageous, experienced adventurers molded through their heroic commitment to discipline and deduction. They’ve got their shared, lifesaving maneuvers committed to memory (printed in a helpful appendix) and ready to save any day. Save the day they must, as a mysterious, bendy gentleman and an oversized, clingy platypus have been unleashed on the city of Fry, and all the residents and their belongings seem to be frozen in time and place. Will they be able to solve this one? With total mastery, Giles creates in Logan County an exuberant vortex of weirdness, where the commonplace sits cheek by jowl with the utterly fantastic, and populates it with memorable characters who more than live up to their setting.

This can’t be the last we ever hear of the Legendary Alston Boys of the purely surreal Logan County—imaginative, thrill-seeking readers, this is a series to look out for. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-46083-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Versify/HMH

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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A quick and comical gallop into the world of ideas.

WHY DO THINGS HAVE NAMES?

From the Plato & Co. series

Imported from France, Platonic realism for preteens, introduced by the great philosopher himself.

“Why is a horse called a horse” instead of, say, a giraffe? Or, for that matter, “flapdoodle”? Just to keep this all as far as possible from becoming a weighty discourse, a toga-clad, woolly-bearded White gent—plainly a philosopher—leads a Socratic-style enquiry loosely based on the Cratylus dialogue that sets up and culminates in an elaborate, fantastic pun. He then goes on to explain that “Plato” is a nickname that translates (very freely) as “Muscleman” and challenges readers to find out where their own names come from. Shibuya’s illustrations helpfully sustain the tone with images of onlookers in antique dress and vaguely Grecian settings along with various creatures led by a smirking horse, all set amid multiple flaps, small pop-ups, die-cut holes, and, at the end, a foil mirror. An attempt to make the point that “horse” is not a universal term goes off the rails, being both confusingly phrased and illustrated with a group of riders clad in stereotypical Native American and like ethnic garb. Otherwise, following Ronan de Calan and Donatien Mary’s The Ghost of Karl Marx, translated by Anna Street (2015), and other entries in the Plato & Co. series, this outing may dip barely a toe into its philosophical waters but does at least begin to demystify them. Stylized human figures throughout show mild differentiation in racial presentation and body type.

A quick and comical gallop into the world of ideas. (Informational novelty. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-3-0358-0275-7

Page Count: 42

Publisher: Diaphanes/Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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