A patient and gentle reminder of the importance of each voice, no matter how small.

MY BEAUTIFUL VOICE

A shy student admires their teacher’s voice while searching for their own.

A child with brown hair and skin observes in amazement as their teacher bursts into the room. An illustration of Miss Flotsam, an older, brown-skinned, bespectacled woman with flowing gray hair, scarf, and coattails, depicts her surrounded by flowers, tropical birds, and pops of color. The poetic narrative reveals Miss Flotsam as a world traveler with tales of “cycle rides in / booming hurricanes” and surviving “flights through / scary storms.” As the students start to write poems, Miss Flotsam encourages them: “We all have songs to sing / and will sing them when we choose.” Though the narrator’s classmates tease them for being so quiet, bit by bit, savoring the flavors of Miss Flotsam’s stories and spirit, the protagonist builds their own stanzas. Colpoys’ artwork matches the whimsy and sparkle of the narration as the child’s creativity flows, but they are still hesitant to read their poem aloud. A warm pastel palette brings to life a cliff and hostile landscape that symbolize the narrator’s anxieties as they struggle to speak in front of the class. Eventually the warmth and comforting tone and backdrop return as the student comes to realize that their voice is beautiful. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A patient and gentle reminder of the importance of each voice, no matter how small. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68464-469-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kane Miller

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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