STORMY’S HAT

JUST RIGHT FOR A RAILROAD MAN

Locomotive engineer Stormy Kromer needs a hat that can stand up to his job, but nothing works. Ida, his wife, tries to offer an idea, but Stormy interrupts and tells her not to worry her “pretty little head” about the problem. Instead, he turns to his buddies for advice. Each one—cowboy, pressman, fireman—recommends his hat, and each hat fails to work for Stormy. Meanwhile, Ida gets fed up listening to Stormy’s complaints; she thinks it’s time Stormy listens to her ideas for a change. When he finally does, not only does he get the perfect hat, he learns to listen. Gentle lessons about listening, respecting women and creative problem-solving are delivered free of didacticism in this timely story based on historical fact. U’Ren’s witty, colorful illustrations enhance the playful tone. The depiction of early-20th-century work and home life is an added bonus. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 6, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-37262-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2008

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THE SEALS ON THE BUS

With a tiger at the wheel, the big purple bus rolls all over town, picking up a menagerie of passengers from sheep (“BAAAH, BAAAH, BAAAH”) to vipers—get it? — (“HISS, HISS, HISS”) to skunks (“SSSS, SSSS, SSSS”) before disgorging its dismayed human riders (“HELP! HELP! HELP!”) at an outdoor party. Though wild creatures waddle, tramp, or slither aboard by troops there's always room for more in Karas’s (Raising Sweetness, 1999, etc.) gleeful paint-and-paper collage scenes. The scene on the bus is bound to provoke a great reaction and reading (or honking) along is inevitable. It's a frolicsome spin on the familiar play rhyme, and a surefire alternative or follow-up to Maryann Kovalski's Wheels on the Bus (1987) or Paul Zelinsky's classic popup version (1990). Hop onboard. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-5952-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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An evocative picture-book bildungsroman with equally atmospheric illustrations.

FARAWAY THINGS

A found “faraway thing” becomes a turning point in the life of a boy.

“Lucian live[s] with his mother on a windswept shore.” His father has been absent from their lighthouse home for long enough that Lucian worries his real memories of him are fading. After a storm, Lucian combs the beach for what his father had called “faraway things”—objects tossed up by the sea—and finds a cutlass. Thrilled, he plays with it, sweeping and slashing the air. The next day dawns foggy, but when it lifts Lucian spies a stranded sailing ship. As he watches, a rowboat is lowered from the ship and moves toward him. The captain steps ashore, wearing a sheath that matches the cutlass. He tells Lucian the cutlass belongs to him, but in trade, the captain will let Lucian select anything from his treasures. Lucian reluctantly realizes the cutlass belongs to the captain and agrees. At the ship, the captain shows Lucian wonderful things and advises him to “choose wisely.” Lucian does. This bildungsroman’s timeless and slightly otherworldly feel is underscored by its illustrations’ muted, effective palette of earth, sea, and sky tones. Unusual perspectives—an ingenious choice for a muted palette—create visual stimulation, showing views from both above and below the horizon line. Satisfyingly, the endpapers allegorically start and finish the story. The captain has dark skin; Lucian and the others have light skin.

An evocative picture-book bildungsroman with equally atmospheric illustrations. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49219-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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