TONY AND THE PIZZA CHAMPIONS

While pizza and all its toppings may prove a tasty topic for a young audience, the flat plot and heavy message herein will leave few readers craving a second helping. Loosely based on a true story, Gemignani describes his team’s work in an international pizza-throwing competition. In tall-tale fashion, Tossing Tony joins his fellow teammates in his extra-large Pizzamobile to prepare for the world championships. Each member has a special skill: Strong Sean tosses his enormous dough on his front lawn while Silly Siler balances pizza while riding his unicycle, and so on. Predictably, the Americans’ pizza-pyramid wins accolades during the international event, though contrived dialogue results in a stunted presentation. “Teamwork,” they say to themselves. “It’s all about teamwork.” Interesting factlets examine pizza’s regional and international differences, though they do little to describe the competition’s specifics. Trueman’s bright mixed-media cartoons evoke the rich flavors of their subject; fiery reds and golden tans energize the colorful art. Depth and texture enhance the angular characters, but overall, this dry narrative lacks spice. (resources, recipes) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8118-6162-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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