YOU'RE A BRAVE MAN, JULIUS ZIMMERMAN

In her sequel to Losers, Inc. (1997), Mills allows Julius to emerge as something of a sad sack—he’s convinced he can’t do anything right, that his mother doesn’t like him, and that he has nothing to offer—but he’s wrong. Following some low grades for Julius at the end of sixth grade, his mother has decided that a good foundation for seventh grade will include summer mornings in French class, afternoons baby- sitting toddler Edison, keeping a goal-setting journal, and reading in his free time. Instead of meeting his mother’s goals, Julius accomplishes a few of his own: forming a friendship with Octavia, toilet-training Edison, and showing his mother that he doesn’t have to be similar to her to succeed. His mother, painfully pushy and disappointed in Julius for most of the book, experiences a last- minute change of heart when other people inform her of her son’s accomplishments and of his capacity for caring. Bathroom humor aside, there’s little evidence of a relationship between Edison and Julius; when other signs of Julius’s big heart—a scene in which he comforts Octavia and his selection of a gift into his French teacher—are pushed into the story, the manipulations of the author erode what readers already know: Julius is a really great guy. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-38708-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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LAUGH-ETERIA

Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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THE QUILTMAKER'S GIFT

A sentimental tale overwhelmed by busy illustrations and rampant pedantry. A gifted quiltmaker who makes outstanding quilts never sells her wares, but gives them away to the poor. A greedy king so loves presents that he has two birthdays a year, and commands everyone in the kingdom to give him gifts. Everyone brings presents till the castle overflows; the king, still unhappy, locates the quiltmaker and directs her to make him a quilt. When she refuses he tries to feed her to a hungry bear, then to leave her on a tiny island, but each time the quiltmaker’s kindness results in her rescue. At last, the king agrees to a bargain; he will give away his many things, and the quiltmaker will sew him a quilt. He is soon poor, but happier than he’s ever been, and she fulfills her end of the bargain; they remain partners forever after, with her sewing the quilts and him giving them away. The illustrations are elaborate, filled with clues to quilt names. A note points to the 250 different quilt names hidden in the picture on the inside of the book jacket. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57025-199-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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