Funny and spirited (and secretly educational, but nobody will notice).

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2013

  • New York Times Bestseller

EXCLAMATION MARK

Punctuation with pizzazz.

How does an exclamation mark learn his purpose? Pre-readers and readers alike will giggle and cheer to see the process. The setting is a warm yellowish beige background with a faint pulpy pattern and repeating horizontal lines with dotted lines halfway between them—penmanship paper. Each bold, black punctuation mark has a minimalist yet expressive face inside its circular dot. “He stood out,” explains the first page, as the titular protagonist looks on doubtfully. He tries hanging around with periods, but squishing his extension down into a spring doesn’t really work; even prostrate, “he just wasn’t like everyone else. Period.” (Hee! Rosenthal gleefully puns instead of naming any punctuation.) Mournful, “confused, flummoxed, and deflated,” the exclamation mark’s line tangles and flops. Then someone unexpected arrives. “Hello? Who are you?” queries the newbie, jovially pummeling the exclamation mark with 17 manic inquiries at once. “Stop!” screams the exclamation mark in enormous, bumpy-edged letters—and there’s his identity! The outburst’s anxious vibe dissipates immediately (and the question mark is undaunted by being yelled at). Finally, the protagonist has “[broken] free from a life sentence.” Snapping up usages that match his newfound personality, he zooms back to show the other punctuation marks. The zippy relationship between exclamation mark and question mark continues beyond the acknowledgements page.

Funny and spirited (and secretly educational, but nobody will notice). (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-43679-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

As insubstantial as hot air.

THE WORLD NEEDS WHO YOU WERE MADE TO BE

A diverse cast of children first makes a fleet of hot air balloons and then takes to the sky in them.

Lifestyle maven Gaines uses this activity as a platform to celebrate diversity in learning and working styles. Some people like to work together; others prefer a solo process. Some take pains to plan extensively; others know exactly what they want and jump right in. Some apply science; others demonstrate artistic prowess. But “see how beautiful it can be when / our differences share the same sky?” Double-page spreads leading up to this moment of liftoff are laid out such that rhyming abcb quatrains typically contain one or two opposing concepts: “Some of us are teachers / and share what we know. / But all of us are learners. / Together is how we grow!” In the accompanying illustration, a bespectacled, Asian-presenting child at a blackboard lectures the other children on “balloon safety.” Gaines’ text has the ring of sincerity, but the sentiment is hardly an original one, and her verse frequently sacrifices scansion for rhyme. Sometimes it abandons both: “We may not look / or work or think the same, / but we all have an / important part to play.” Swaney’s delicate, pastel-hued illustrations do little to expand on the text, but they are pretty. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11.2-by-18.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70.7% of actual size.)

As insubstantial as hot air. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4003-1423-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tommy Nelson

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre.

SNOW PLACE LIKE HOME

From the Diary of an Ice Princess series

Ice princess Lina must navigate family and school in this early chapter read.

The family picnic is today. This is not a typical gathering, since Lina’s maternal relatives are a royal family of Windtamers who have power over the weather and live in castles floating on clouds. Lina herself is mixed race, with black hair and a tan complexion like her Asian-presenting mother’s; her Groundling father appears to be a white human. While making a grand entrance at the castle of her grandfather, the North Wind, she fails to successfully ride a gust of wind and crashes in front of her entire family. This prompts her stern grandfather to ask that Lina move in with him so he can teach her to control her powers. Desperate to avoid this, Lina and her friend Claudia, who is black, get Lina accepted at the Hilltop Science and Arts Academy. Lina’s parents allow her to go as long as she does lessons with grandpa on Saturdays. However, fitting in at a Groundling school is rough, especially when your powers start freak winter storms! With the story unfurling in diary format, bright-pink–highlighted grayscale illustrations help move the plot along. There are slight gaps in the storytelling and the pacing is occasionally uneven, but Lina is full of spunk and promotes self-acceptance.

A jam-packed opener sure to satisfy lovers of the princess genre. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-35393-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more