This adaptation is uneven, fluctuating between clever—the story’s title—and pedestrian—the tale itself. (Picture book. 5-9)

RATTLESTILTSKIN

Kimmel’s Southwestern take on “Rumpelstiltskin” kicks off when the protagonist’s mother brags of her gifted daughter to all her friends.

The richest man in town, Don Ignacio, overhears that Rosalia’s tortillas “are so light, they float like clouds” and orders her to whip up a batch. Green, goblinlike Rattlestiltskin pops out of the oven and proposes a deal: she will get light-as-air tortillas in return for anything he asks. Instead of taking this opportunity to further digress from Grimm and empower his protagonist, Kimmel reinforces gender-specific stereotypes. Don Ignacio offers Rosalia the job of making tortillas for him and his friends for the rest of her life while living in his hacienda and wearing pretty clothes; she eagerly accepts. Rattlestiltskin ruins this questionably idyllic situation by demanding his due: servitude to Rattlestiltskin. Making yet another ill-advised decision, Rosalia takes off across the desert, with no hat or water, to avoid her fate. The story’s language is lackluster, and too many of the Spanish phrases are awkwardly or inappropriately used. For instance, “¡Aguas!” (“watch out”) is used incorrectly as a threat, not as a warning of imminent danger. As for Camarca’s colored-pencil illustrations, with the exception of Rattlestiltskin and his snazzy outfit, the female characters and scenery have a coloring-book quality, detracting from rather than enhancing the narrative.

This adaptation is uneven, fluctuating between clever—the story’s title—and pedestrian—the tale itself. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-943328-38-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: WestWinds Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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