SERIOUS TROUBLE

Another perceptive, deceptively cartoonish tale from Howard. Despite his portentous name, young Ernest confounds his serious-minded royal parents by declaring that he only wants to be a court jester—an ambition that ultimately stands him in good stead during an encounter with a dour three-headed dragon. Given “two chances, or maybe three” to make the monster’s heads laugh, or become a snack, Ernest comes through in the clutch despite the unusually tough audience—“We haven’t laughed in a thousand years”—and returns to the palace in triumph. Does he then change his ways? Howard gives readers two chances to decide, “. . . or maybe three.” Tucking plenty of wordplay into the brief text to complement his playful, loosely drawn illustrations, Howard produces another child-friendly episode, this one with an underlying message about parental expectations and being allowed to be one’s own fool. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-202664-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2003

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SEE PIP POINT

From the Adventures of Otto series

In his third beginning reader about Otto the robot, Milgrim (See Otto, 2002, etc.) introduces another new friend for Otto, a little mouse named Pip. The simple plot involves a large balloon that Otto kindly shares with Pip after the mouse has a rather funny pointing attack. (Pip seems to be in that I-point-and-I-want-it phase common with one-year-olds.) The big purple balloon is large enough to carry Pip up and away over the clouds, until Pip runs into Zee the bee. (“Oops, there goes Pip.”) Otto flies a plane up to rescue Pip (“Hurry, Otto, Hurry”), but they crash (and splash) in front of some hippos with another big balloon, and the story ends as it begins, with a droll “See Pip point.” Milgrim again succeeds in the difficult challenge of creating a real, funny story with just a few simple words. His illustrations utilize lots of motion and basic geometric shapes with heavy black outlines, all against pastel backgrounds with text set in an extra-large typeface. Emergent readers will like the humor in little Pip’s pointed requests, and more engaging adventures for Otto and Pip will be welcome additions to the limited selection of funny stories for children just beginning to read. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85116-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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