In a new adventure for Gus and Grandpa, the author-illustrator duo (Gus and Grandpa and the Two-Wheeled Bike, 1999, etc.) takes readers along as Gus prepares for second-grade show-and-tell, which promises to be a far cry from his fun presentations last year, when he could bring whatever he wished. This year, the teacher has sent home a list of topics. For the first topic, Mom and Dad offer suggestions, but Gus rejects their ideas only to see other kids using them come presentation time—and Ryan Mason outshining everyone. Grandpa’s suggestion of a balloon for solids, liquids, and gases, the second topic, sounds all right, till Gus gets to school: a bunch of kids have the same idea, and “almost everyone else had rocks,” except for Ryan Mason, of course, who made a gas using vinegar and baking soda to inflate a balloon. Grandpa knows a lot of Colorado history, the third topic, but Gus can’t take Grandpa’s crackly old photographs to school . . . or can he? His show-and-tell Grandpa knocks the socks off Ryan’s next presentation and restores Gus’s faith in life’s ultimate fairness. Stock’s watercolor illustrations complement and separate blocks of beginning-to-read text, doing everything they should do in a book for this readership. Together, words and pictures are an enjoyable take on an age-appropriate issue. Gus and Grandpa are a great intergenerational team; they’re lucky to have each other—and readers are lucky to have them. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-374-32819-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.


Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet