A joyful take on a serious lesson.

THE NEW SWEATER

From the Hueys series , Vol. 1

The clothes make the Huey in Jeffers’ picture-book ode to nonconformity.

In what promises to be the first in a series about the Hueys, little egg-shaped creatures with just lines for limbs, the cast of characters are indistinguishable from one another until a fellow named Rupert knits himself an orange sweater. The text plainly states that “most of the other Hueys were horrified!” when Huey strolls by in his jaunty new duds. And the subsequent line, “Rupert stood out like a sore thumb,” is delightfully understated, since his oval form wrapped up in an orange sweater looks rather sore-thumb–like. Then, another Huey named Gillespie decides that “being different was interesting,” and he knits himself a sweater just like Rupert’s. This gets the proverbial ball of yarn rolling, and, in scenes reminiscent of The Sneetches, soon many, many Hueys are knitting and donning identical orange sweaters in order to “be different too!”  In Jeffers’ expert hands, the message of respecting individuality comes through with a light touch as Rupert concludes the story by deciding to shake things up again as he dons a hat. “And that changed everything,” reads the closing text, with a page turn revealing a little parade of Hueys decked out in a broad array of different clothing, from feather boas to pirate hats.

A joyful take on a serious lesson. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25767-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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Fun enough once through, but not much more.

THE SPAGHETTI-SLURPING SEWER SERPENT

A pint-sized sleuth tracks a purple underground monster.

When Mom scrapes the family's uneaten spaghetti into the sink, young Sammy Sanders hears strange slurping sounds. He becomes "77 percent convinced" that a spaghetti-slurping serpent lives in his sewer, and can't get to sleep. The next morning, Sammy and his little sister Sally investigate. There are meatballs and strands of limp spaghetti around the manhole cover! Sammy, whose round glasses make the whites of his eyes look as enormous as an owl's, can barely contain his excitement. After he removes the cover, Sally slips on some sauce and lands in the sewer, becoming a smelly sludgy mess. Sammy's left to investigate alone and comes up with a brilliant idea. Late that night, he sneaks out of the house with a salty snack for himself and a bowl of spaghetti for the serpent. But he falls asleep, and the huge serpent slithers up to the scrumptious spaghetti. Slurping sounds startle Sammy awake; he's face-to-face with the monster. There's just one thing to do: Share! Sammy' salty snack earns him a friend for life. And that night, he sleeps soundly, 100% sure that there's a serpent in his sewer. Zenz's illustrations, in Prismacolor colored pencil, look generic, but Ripes' yarn has pace and phonetic crackle.

Fun enough once through, but not much more.    (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7614-6101-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Feb. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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