THE GOOD LITTLE GIRL

David’s good little Miranda is being handed a bill of goods from her working parents: “Tomorrow,” they reply to her requests, and they take her consent for granted. When they fail to deliver Miranda’s favorite Saturday waffle breakfast, and again make the feeble “tomorrow” response, Miranda metamorphoses into a rough-and-tumble alter-ego—Lucretia, who is green and nasty. Miranda is inside Lucretia’s head, staring out her eyeball to witness the proceedings, and can communicate with Lucretia but not with her parents. Lucretia asks Miranda what she wants, and at first all is well, with all Miranda’s requests fulfilled. Then Lucretia turns mean, humiliating the parents and disregarding Miranda’s pleas. After Lucretia makes Miranda’s mother stick pencils up her nose and sing “Polly Wolly Doodle,” Miranda cuts loose and reappears, sending Lucretia back to a primitive corner of her brain. The parents are delighted to have their good girl return, but slip into their “tomorrow” motif until prompting from Lucretia firms up negotiations. Lucretia will appeal to every child who has ever succumbed to vague parental procrastinations, and Oubrerie’s illustrations are just what the story ordered: bug-eyed, elemental, and more than a tad crazy. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32614-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1998

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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