RIDDLE RHYMES

A fun book that coaxes listeners to identify the subject of a short poem. Who is found on the ground right in front of you? What lifts kites and sails boats and makes nary a sound? What looks just like you do and must be forgiven if it stares? The poems beg for an animated reading, then for an expectant pause before the last line reveals the answer. Best of all, the answers aren't pat, but require readers to make modest connections. Ghigna (Tickle Day, 1994, not reviewed, etc.) has made some of his delicate concoctions a bit sweet (``I'm bigger than a basketball./I'm light and rather round./I string along at party time./I'm Happy Birthday bound.''), but they provide ample give-and-take for children trying to guess the answers. Gorton has created airbrushed illustrations with the feel of 1920s travel posters; these are sculpted but childlike and serve as generous, warm-hearted clues to the poetic puzzles. The answers will quickly become rote, but the poems are worth reading again and again, for their simple, decent imagery and child-size insights. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 1-56282-479-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1995

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I CAN BE ANYTHING!

A young boy wonders aloud to a rabbit friend what he will be when he grows up and imagines some outrageous choices. “Puddle stomper,” “bubble gum popper,” “mixing-bowl licker,” “baby-sis soother” are just some of the 24 inspiringly creative vocations Spinelli’s young dreamer envisions in this pithy rhymed account. Aided by Liao’s cleverly integrated full-bleed mixed-media illustrations, which radiate every hue of the rainbow, and dynamic typesetting with words that swoop and dive, the author’s perspective on this adult-inspired question yields some refreshingly child-oriented answers. Given such an irresistible array of options—“So many jobs! / They’re all such fun”—the boy in the end decides, in an exuberant double gatefold, “I’m going to choose… / EVERY ONE!”—a conclusion befitting a generation expected to have more than six careers each. Without parents or peers around to corral this carefree child’s dreams, the possibilities of being whatever one wants appear both limitless and attainable. An inspired take on a timeless question. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-16226-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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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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