An adroit blend of humor, compassion and quiet optimism reflects the statesman’s character and make this a first choice for...

ABE LINCOLN'S DREAM

Smith transcends clichés to present a fresh and intimate glimpse of the 16th president.

Opening panels, rendered digitally and in oil and ink, hone in on three presidential pooches that wouldn’t “enter THAT room” in the White House. By the time present-day Quincy goes AWOL from her tour to discover a pale man in a stovepipe hat who walks through walls, there have been enough subsequent clues that readers will understand the dogs’ hesitation. The sensitive African-American protagonist perceives that Lincoln is haunted by unfinished business. While sharing groan-inducing jokes and flying over monuments, farms and the moon, the two discuss American progress. Quincy offers encouraging words on the union of the states and equality, but about fighting, she observes, “We’re still working on that one.” They share recurring dreams; Lincoln’s is about a “ship sailing rapidly for some shore I know not where.” A brief (although undocumented) afterword says this is so. The palette is appropriately somber, but touches like the striking red roses that fill the foreground of the moonlit mansion’s garden mitigate the darkness. Types of varying sizes and weights mimic those found in period newspapers and political posters. The final spread features Quincy’s dream: fireworks flaring, a smiling president sails into the light.

An adroit blend of humor, compassion and quiet optimism reflects the statesman’s character and make this a first choice for February or anytime. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59643-608-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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