ARTHUR'S NEW POWER

It's always disconcerting when a character created by one illustrator returns in the style of another, but Barton's offhand absurdity well suits this not-too-serious fable of electronic over-consumption. And Hoban does more than you'd expect with a story that begins when father Crocodile arrives home to find the fuses blown again and goes about unplugging "the electric toothbrushes and his reducing machine and his quadraphonic hi-fi. He unplugged the bedroom TV and the kitchen TV and the living-room TV. He unplugged the blender and the biofeedback and the Slimmo. He unplugged Emma's and Arthur's stereos, and he unplugged the Dracula"—this last being the Hi-Vamp for Arthur's electric guitar and the presumed chief cause of all the blow-outs. Mother and Emma manage okay in their unplugged headsets (life just feels more natural with them on) and Arthur, of all things, passes his time reading mysterious large library books; it's father, missing the news and driven crazy by the crickets, who plugs in at last. Later Arthur, explaining all the research, unveils his water wheel generator—but when the family eventually blows that too, it is Arthur who has learned to be content with playing his own quiet composition on his non-acoustic guitar. Though without the wicked twist that made Dinner at Alberta's a treat, it's a good sneaky generational joke, pulled off with cool.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 1978

ISBN: 0440401836

Page Count: 52

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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