The lesson goes down easy in this silly earworm.

OLD MACDONALD HAD A PHONE

Who knew they had cell coverage on Old Macdonald’s farm?

“Old Macdonald had a phone / And it was very smart, / It helped him organize his farm / And fill his shopping cart… / With a tractor here / And a pig trough there, / Chicken feed, cabbage seed, / Everything that he might need.” Then, disaster! The elderly White man drops his phone in the lake. When he orders a replacement, he accidentally orders 100 instead of one. The animals are excited; they each get their own, but this leads to chaos. All of the animals are too distracted to do their farm jobs. “The sheep ignored the rams. / The sheepdog lost the lambs”; and “The hens wouldn’t lay. / On their phones all day.” Old Mac’s solution is to confiscate all the phones, which sets the beasts to sulking. Young Macdonald has a solution: sensible use of phones for all! So they make some rules, and the farm returns to productivity. Willis’ recasting of the familiar song maintains characters and cadence, though some of its most familiar elements are missing (very few moos and baas and nary an E-I-E-I-O). Readers ready for such a drastic divergence will find the tutorial in judicious phone use both on point and funny (with a hint of a British accent). As always, frequent collaborator Ross’ sprightly, scribbly, and oh-so-expressive cartoon illustrations are a perfect match for Willis’ humor.

The lesson goes down easy in this silly earworm. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72842-412-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Andersen Press USA

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

Outstanding suspense.

WILDFIRE

WHEN TREES EXPLODE

A boy, a girl, a venerable Jeep, and a massive wildfire sweeping across the mountains of Maine. It’s the perfect setup for a riveting tale of high suspense.

Sam and Delphy are staying at separate summer camps on the same lake when the threat of a wildfire forces evacuation—but both are inadvertently left behind. Using the survival skills he learned from his deceased father, Sam hikes cross-country until he finds a remote cabin and the old Jeep that will prove to be his salvation. Only later, barreling along a narrow logging road, does he encounter Delphy. With shades of My Side of the Mountain for a modern audience, 2010 Newbery Honoree Philbrick (The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg) provides the pair of young adolescents, both white, with just enough modern technology to keep the tale credible. It will take all of their courage and wits to survive being lost in the wilderness, even as they are constantly threatened both by the erratic fire and the danger posed by two out-of-control arsonists. Sam’s pithy first-person voice is self-deprecating enough to be fully believable and plays nicely against Delphy’s sometimes less confident but heroically determined character. Short chapters, outstanding cover art, and a breathless pace make this a fine choice for reluctant readers. Interesting backmatter regarding wildfires and survival tips rounds out a thrilling tale.

Outstanding suspense. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-26690-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more