Shrieking “Parable!” at every page turn, this takes its design concept from another, arguably more lasting parable. Featuring an embossed cover with faux-stitching up the side that uneasily recalls Boris Karloff’s makeup job from Frankenstein, this wildly self-conscious offering presents the story of an unnamed boy who wanders the reaches of Cementland. This boy is very special—resembling nothing so much as a red-and-white-striped trashcan with stick arms and legs, he roams in search of treasure. One day he finds “a strange and wonderful box. Attached to the box was a wrinkled note, which said, ‘Put my wondrous riches into the earth and enjoy.’ ” Predictably enough, when the boy sprinkles the riches—tiny gray specks contained within many brightly colored packets—into the earth, mysterious robbers come overnight and steal them. So the boy manufactures a living scarecrow of wire, old socks, and underwear and dubs it Frog Belly Rat Bone. Together the boy and Frog Belly Rat Bone make friends with the three potential robbers, a rat, a rabbit, and a fruit fly, and win them over to the mysteries of gardening. Smeary full-bleed gray-green acrylics modulate to smeary red-orange-pink acrylics as the “wondrous treasure” sprouts until “Cementland is filled with colors now!” Over-designed, overburdened, overbearing nod to easy environmentalism aimed directly at the Grandma market. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7636-1382-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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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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