RICKY RICOTTA’S GIANT ROBOT VS. THE VOODOO VULTURES FROM VENUS

It’s easy to see how Pilkey’s high-action, easy-reading chapter novel with a comic-book feel would appeal to younger readers. The black-and-white stylish pictures by Ontiveros are way cool and the text is insouciant and funny. This is the third book that pairs the tiny bespectacled mouse, Ricky, with his super-strong, giant robot buddy, a sharp-jawed fellow who looks like an out-of-shape wrestler with rodent ears. Because Ricky is being punished for acting irresponsibly—he and his robot have come home late for dinner again—they are the only ones on the Planet Earth who miss the television show Rocky Rodent. And it’s a good thing too, because that very night a group of Voodoo Vultures from the Planet Venus, tired of eating the melted mess that passes for food on their super hot planet, beam down rays through the television, hypnotizing Earth’s entire population, except for Ricky, into obeying their wishes. When they arrive on Earth, the ravenous vultures order the hypnotized mice to bring them good Earth cooking, in a funny throwaway touch demanding “more chocolate chip cookies” but “no more rice cakes,” until Ricky is able to figure out how to save the day. Parents will be happy to know this tale does have a moral, “responsibility . . . is doing the right thing at the right time,” though giggling fans may miss it. Also containing a rather lame flip-o-rama and instructions on how to draw the characters, this book is silly good fun. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-23624-X

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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