A very funny read-aloud done (mostly) right-side up.

ABNER & IAN GET RIGHT-SIDE UP

Take reading for a spin (literally) with the newest metafictive comedy duo, Abner and Ian.

Their oddball routine begins with Abner, a duck, and Ian, a prairie dog, standing sideways on the edges of the pages—parallel rather than perpendicular to the background. Abner suggests breaking the fourth wall to ask readers (referred to in the singular as “the kid”) to help by shaking the book and turning the pages. Ian expresses some doubt about the idea. But, when Abner notes that they’ve “seen it work before” (a hilarious moment of meta-metafiction), the pals go forward with the plan. A countdown cue instructs readers to do as they’re told. Subsequent page turns find Abner and Ian in various different post-shake orientations (upside down, in the gutter, all mixed up, etc.). Will they ever make it to where they’re supposed to be so they can start the story? At 80 pages, the joke carries on a bit too long, but the witty back and forth between the two characters makes for a quick pace. Park’s art matches a limited palette of earth tones with bright, bold backgrounds. Her cartoon characters are richly expressive, nicely varied within the context of the heavy compositional repetition required to fuel the comedy. Amusingly, Abner’s scarf demonstrates at all times that it is subject to the law of gravity, even if the characters are not. Given the characters’ broad vocabularies, it’s a shame they resort to variations of “crazy” to describe how they want the book to be shaken.

A very funny read-aloud done (mostly) right-side up. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-48586-9

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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