Plump little Jim "liked his music loud and he liked it heavy," but he doesn't know how to read music—an inconvenient fact discovered by his mother after Mr. Strange (a stoat) sells them a recorder cheap. Mom gives Jim a succinct lesson in "do re mi" and the staff's lines and spaces ("Fat Alligators Cautiously Eat Grapefruit") despite Jim's punning parries; then the recorder leads Jim to an inn where he gets word of a noisy music-maker in a nearby tower, a fearsome place where he finds "Itsa Thing," a blond singer hung about with chains, lamenting a lost song she didn't know how to write down—a skill Jim can now share. All this is a curious descendant of Hoban's cozily endearing Frances stories. The little badger's songs were surprisingly similar to the lyrics recorded here; and where Frances embodied everyday friendly conflicts, Jim's fixation on heavy metal sometimes seems almost as universal. The story is less earthshaking than the music described, but Hoban is still a master of satirical legerdemain; his wordplay and cleverly interwoven innuendos make a magical music of their own. Lewin's winsome, freely limned hedgehogs are as comical—and nearly as deft—as the drawings of Hoban's sometime British illustrator, Quentin Blake. Far-out, but funny, truly original, and sure to appeal to the right audience. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 23, 1992

ISBN: 0-395-59760-9

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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A charming, true story about the encounter between the boy who would become chancellor at the University of California at Riverside and a librarian in Iowa. Tom†s Rivera, child of migrant laborers, picks crops in Iowa in the summer and Texas in the winter, traveling from place to place in a worn old car. When he is not helping in the fields, Tom†s likes to hear Papa Grande's stories, which he knows by heart. Papa Grande sends him to the library downtown for new stories, but Tom†s finds the building intimidating. The librarian welcomes him, inviting him in for a cool drink of water and a book. Tom†s reads until the library closes, and leaves with books checked out on the librarian's own card. For the rest of the summer, he shares books and stories with his family, and teaches the librarian some Spanish. At the end of the season, there are big hugs and a gift exchange: sweet bread from Tom†s's mother and a shiny new book from the librarianto keep. Col¢n's dreamy illustrations capture the brief friendship and its life-altering effects in soft earth tones, using round sculptured shapes that often depict the boy right in the middle of whatever story realm he's entered. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-80401-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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