WHEN I GROW UP

A disappointing exploration of career options from an entertainer who should know better. Maybe it has something to do with the decision to take the "Weird" out of his authorial name, but musical satirist Yankovic doesn't deliver the kind of precise zaniness adults of a certain generation will expect. Little Billy may be small in stature, but he doesn't limit his thinking when it comes to what he'll be when he grows up. As soon as Mrs. Krupp gives him the floor at show-and-tell, he grabs it and doesn't let go, reeling out a dizzying series of potential careers. Beginning with 12 rhyming couplets on what kind of a chef he might be, he follows up with snail trainer, machinist, giraffe milker, artist and on and on. At its best, the verse approaches Seussian: "maybe I'll be the lathe operator / Who makes the hydraulic torque wrench calibrator / Which fine-tunes the wrench that's specifically made / To retighten the nuts in the lateral blade." But the pacing never allows readers to stop and chuckle at the foolishness, and it doesn't leave enough room for Hargis' light, humorous cartoons to expand and ramp up the goof factor. In children's books, as in satire, less is more—here's hoping Weird Al's next effort is both tighter and funnier. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-192691-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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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