THE WEEPING WILLOW

A spat separates best friends, but only temporarily, in this slender sequel to The Tornado Watchers (p. 882). Ike and Buzzy are forever bickering over little things, but Buzzy’s contentiousness becomes so annoying when the two try to construct a tree house in a willow that at last Ike just hauls the scrap wood off to build a playhouse for his little sister Mem. When Buzzy finds out that Ike used the wood without asking, he stomps off in a huff, leaving Ike with only Mem as a playmate—some fun, but not the same. Alter adds staid ink drawings of nearly expressionless children to this low-key episode. In the end, Ike and Buzzy make up, with a bit of bending on both sides, and persuade an at-first-reluctant Mem to let them drag the playhouse beneath the willow. The relationships here, particularly the sibling one, show some texture, but the author puts less into delineating his characters than just having them model mannerly and unmannerly behavior. A utilitarian tale for new chapter book readers. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1671-2

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2002

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I WANNA IGUANA

In epistolary dialogue with his mom, a lad yearning for an iguana tries various approaches, from logic and sweet talk to emotional blackmail. His mother puts up a valiant defense—“Dear Mom: Did you know that iguanas are really quiet and they’re cute too. I think they are much cuter than hamsters. Love, your adorable son, Alex.” “Dear Alex: Tarantulas are quiet too”—before ultimately capitulating. Catrow’s scribbly, lurid, purple-and-green illustrations bring the diverse visions of parent and child to hilarious life, as a lizard of decidedly indeterminate ancestry grows in stages to the size of a horse, all the while exhibiting a doglike affection toward its balloon-headed prospective keeper—who is last seen posed by a new terrarium, pumping a fist in victory. A familiar domestic interchange, played out with broad comedy—and mutual respect, too. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-23717-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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