Would that every student could find a way to combine what they love with their schoolwork.

VLAD THE RAD

A vampire who loves to skateboard has to up his game to convince his classmates and teacher that skateboarding can be spooky.

Vlad attends Miss Fussbucket’s School for Aspiring Spooks, which has a very diverse student body that includes a cyclops, a demon, a siren, and an anthropomorphic black cat in addition to other young ghouls and vampire Vlad. None of them share Vlad’s enthusiasm for skateboarding (they call him “Bad Vlad” the show-off), and Vlad just keeps racking up warnings from Miss Fussbucket about skateboarding at school until he earns a detention. As he writes lines on the chalkboard, he wonders why he can’t combine the two things he’s good at to please Miss Fussbucket. Well, the opportunity to do just that comes during the field trip to the natural history museum. Vlad sees the curving backbone of the giant dinosaur skeleton and just can’t resist—and the trick, combined with his screeching and hissing, sends the human museumgoers running away in fright, his classmates and teacher applauding him for being “radically terrifying.” Moldy green with highlights of red and the hot pink of Vlad’s skateboard pop against the more sedate backgrounds of the extremely staid school and pages of negative space. Readers will enjoy the prim-and-proper uniform-clad child monsters.

Would that every student could find a way to combine what they love with their schoolwork. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-553-51345-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

more