THE SECRET BOX

Once again, Caldecott Honoree Lehman (The Red Book, 2004) presents surprising visuals that playfully and mysteriously connect children across space and time. In the top floor of what seems an orphanage, amid rows of empty beds, a bespectacled boy hides a saltwater-taffy box under a floorboard.  The box, readers know, holds photos, a postcard, tokens, ticket stubs and a map fragment, with a route sketched in red-penciled arrows. Double-page spreads of watercolor and gouache depict decades of transformation, as a rural landscape becomes a burgeoning city crowding out the sky. Two groups of children, separated by generations, discover the box of treasures, successively locating the cistern where the map quest begins and the stream—now buried in a brick-lined culvert—leading to the lovely, colorful Seahorse Pier. The author beckons readers, with the first trio, into a turreted room at the pier, where a crowd of kids—including the bespectacled lad who began the tale—enjoys a living space with hammocks, toys, food—all that the sere orphanage ward lacked. Ending with a modern boy and girl contemplating the culvert’s entrance, she invites readers (her wordless pictures clearly beg to be read, pored over) to feel the tenuous bonds of child life loosen. Wonderful! (Picture book. 4-8)

 

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-23868-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2011

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

CAPTAIN AWESOME TO THE RESCUE!

From the Captain Awesome series , Vol. 1

The town of Sunnyview got a little bit safer when 8-year-old Eugene McGillicudy moved in.

Just like his comic-book mentor, Super Dude, Eugene, aka Captain Awesome, is on a one-man mission is to save the world from supervillains, like the nefarious “Queen Stinkypants from Planet Baby.” Just as Eugene suspected, plenty of new supervillains await him at Sunnyview Elementary. Are Meredith Mooney and the mind-reading Ms. Beasley secretly working together to try and force Eugene to reveal his secret identity? Will Principal Brick Foot succeed in throwing Captain Awesome into the “Dungeon of Detention?” Fortunately, Eugene isn’t forced to go it alone. Charlie Thomas Jones, fellow comic-book lover and Super Dude fan, stands ready and willing to help. When the class hamster goes missing, Captain Awesome must don his cape and, with the help of his new best friend, ride to the rescue. Kirby’s funny and engaging third-person narration and O’Connor’s hilarious illustrations make the book easily accessible and enormously appealing, particularly to readers who have recently graduated to chapter books. But it is the quirky, mischievous Eugene that really makes this book special. His energy and humor are contagious, and his dogged commitment to his superhero alter ego is enough to make anyone a believer.  

As Captain Awesome would say, this kid is “MI-TEE!” (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4090-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

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