Fans of Freckleface Strawberry and her friends will welcome their return, but better stories about school, friendship, and...

FRECKLEFACE STRAWBERRY AND THE REALLY BIG VOICE

From the Freckleface Strawberry series

A young boy discovers that his loud voice is (mostly) not appreciated at school.

Redheaded Freckleface Strawberry, blond Noah, large and loud Windy Pants Patrick (all white), and brown-skinned Winnie (possibly Southeast Asian) have enjoyed playing (and shouting) all summer long. They have jumped through the sprinkler, savored ice cream treats, and participated in outdoor games. Now it’s time to return to school. Most of the children adapt easily to their teachers’ and classmates’ expectations. But Windy Pants Patrick finds himself being shushed in the classroom, the lunchroom, and the library. Not until he gets to music class does being louder than the rest work to his advantage. Pham’s digitally colored Japanese brush-pen artwork is energetic and cheerful with a decidedly retro feel. As in other titles in the series, however, white characters are stark white, which contrasts oddly with the more realistic skin tones of Asian and black individuals. The mildly amusing premise is likewise hampered by the shortcomings of Moore’s text. Changes in typeface and font and a multiplicity of exclamation points attempt to add excitement, but short, repetitive, declarative sentences dominate, giving it a choppy feel.

Fans of Freckleface Strawberry and her friends will welcome their return, but better stories about school, friendship, and embracing individuality abound. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-385-39203-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea...

SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Although today’s kids usually communicate through texting or email, Elliot from the United States and Kailash from India use pictures and a few simple sentences to exchange information about their lives. 

Their teachers facilitate the snail mailing of pictorial letters, just as the author-illustrator did when she visited Nepal, which provided the inspiration for this book. The title, also used as a refrain throughout the book, is a popular saying in India and Nepal, heard by Kostecki-Shaw when she traveled there. Elliot and Kailash explore their similarities and differences, concluding that their lives are “Different, different but the SAME!” The engaging childlike acrylic paintings with crayon, pencil, tissue paper and other collage elements show the busy crowded American streets of Elliot’s city, the traditional buildings of Kailash’s riverside village, the taxis and buses in the States and the taxis and camel-pulled carts in India. The English alphabet is reproduced on wide-ruled notebook paper and the Hindi alphabet (unfortunately unidentified) on a small slate, and both typical American pets (dog and fish) and a whole farmyard of Indian animals appear. Both kids live unusually low-tech lives (no computers or cell phones in sight), but they each enjoy learning about their pen pal’s world.

Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea of traditional two-way communication and demonstrates just how small our world can be. (Picture book. 5-7) 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8946-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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