TESSA’S TIP-TAPPING TOES

Crimi (Don’t Need Friends, not reviewed, etc.) and Carrington (Sometimes I Feel Like a Stormcloud, not reviewed, etc.) team up for a humorous tale of a tap-dancing mouse and a singing cat who are more interested in their particular talents than in the traditional game of cat-and-mouse. Tessa the mouse is warned by her mother to stop tapping and twirling and to start scurrying quietly like a proper mouse. Oscar the cat is warned by his owner, Mrs. Trimboni, to start chasing the mice and to stop “crooning or caterwauling” because he bothers the neighbors. Both creatures go on with the show in another stay-true-to-yourself story that ends in a toe-tapping jam-fest with the mouse family, the cat, and Mrs. Trimboni all singing and kicking up their heels. Crimi uses expressive, rollicking language to describe the dancing and singing: “the skitter-scamper of little mice feet,” “a rowdy, riotous tune,” and “an all-out rock-’n’-roll, boogie-woogie, hip-hop, two-step combo.” Carrington’s large, crayon-bright paintings with varying perspectives are complemented by an oversized format with lots of double-page spreads. She has a flair for the hilarious touch, such as Tessa’s bottle-cap tap shoes and Oscar’s broomstick microphone. Although the storyline isn’t exceptional, this will fit well into lots of thematic story hours (mice, cats, dancing, singing, or follow-your-heart). (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-31768-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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