High-energy ride to nowhere.

OLD MACDONALD HAD HER FARM

A new take on the old song highlights the role of vowels in the English language.

“Old MacDonald had her farm, / a e i o u. / And when she came across an a, / this is what she’d do:  / Saw barn planks, stack sacks….” Youngsters will never mistake this for the familiar song, especially when they attempt to read the tongue-twisting, nearly nonsense text aloud. Lawson’s giddily flowing style just doesn’t adapt well to this grammar lesson. The garish computer-generated art complements the silly tone by showing Old MacDonald fiddling with a Rube Goldberg–type contraption for sawing and stacking on the “a” page and continuing her over-the-top farm chores on the succeeding ones. There is really no story here, just a jumble of words that demonstrate the various sounds that each vowel can make. However, readers and listeners will enjoy following the action on each page right until the end, when Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald seem to settle down into a rowdy song with all their animals singing along. Teachers might find this helpful when working on vowels, and children will enjoy making lists of words that rhyme with the words in the story. No one will mistake this for anything other than a school exercise.

High-energy ride to nowhere. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-55451-457-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers.

THE INFAMOUS RATSOS

From the Infamous Ratsos series , Vol. 1

Two little rats decide to show the world how tough they are, with unpredictable results.

Louie and Ralphie Ratso want to be just like their single dad, Big Lou: tough! They know that “tough” means doing mean things to other animals, like stealing Chad Badgerton’s hat. Chad Badgerton is a big badger, so taking that hat from him proves that Louie and Ralphie are just as tough as they want to be. However, it turns out that Louie and Ralphie have just done a good deed instead of a bad one: Chad Badgerton had taken that hat from little Tiny Crawley, a mouse, so when Tiny reclaims it, they are celebrated for goodness rather than toughness. Sadly, every attempt Louie and Ralphie make at doing mean things somehow turns nice. What’s a little boy rat supposed to do to be tough? Plus, they worry about what their dad will say when he finds out how good they’ve been. But wait! Maybe their dad has some other ideas? LaReau keeps the action high and completely appropriate for readers embarking on chapter books. Each of the first six chapters features a new, failed attempt by Louie and Ralphie to be mean, and the final, seventh chapter resolves everything nicely. The humor springs from their foiled efforts and their reactions to their failures. Myers’ sprightly grayscale drawings capture action and characters and add humorous details, such as the Ratsos’ “unwelcome” mat.

A nicely inventive little morality “tail” for newly independent readers. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7636-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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