WHERE’S THE BIG BAD WOLF?

Three little pigs get some real bad advice from a wolf in a real goofy sheep disguise in this comical whodunit. The three little pigs are having their homes blown down—and escaping by the hair of their chinny-chin-chins—and Detective Doggedly believes it might be the work of the shiftless, no-account neighborhood wolf, the infamous BBW. But the only character found at the crime scenes is a newcomer to town: Esmeralda the sheep. Sure, kids will note, Esmeralda their foot, for her disguise is pretty transparent. She has also been giving the pigs construction ideas: straw is good, twigs are good, and cardboard’s not bad. Two cows suggest a brick house, which foils the wolf and ends in his unveiling and incarceration. Short-term incarceration, that is, as he’s soon back, this time tricked out as a horse, with more self-serving recommendations: “Pick peas after midnight, when everybody is asleep. They’ll taste sweeter.” So what if there are a few inexplicables here—How did the wolf con his way into that hospital bed?—this is good clownish fun, and the rough-and-tumble art keeps the farce bubbling. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-18194-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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