Parents and educators seeking to bully-proof their child and school will welcome this latest scenario from Roche (Little Pig Is Capable, 2002, etc.) depicting a child’s real-life problem and well-resolved conclusion. Second-grader Mim is comfortable and confident in her petite body as she is not only first in her class line-up, but in her mental outlook. That is until her class has gym simultaneously with the third graders and she meets June, oversized for her age, who uses her largess to intimidate Mim, literally bullying her way through every encounter. Expecting to be first in the joint class line-up, June is infuriated when she must line up after the second graders, vowing retaliation against Mim. Each day brings misery to poor Mim as June cuts in line grabbing the last grilled-cheese sandwich at lunch, threatens her privacy in the bathroom, and generally is the cause of Mim’s newfound anxiety. Through it all, Mim is encouraged by her mother, who suggests a peace offering of a cupcake, and her classmates, who rally round by singing a chant of support, all making June “ripping mad.” Finally, the end of the week brings Gym Olympics and both Mim and June inadvertently are the only two left after everyone pairs off in teams. Not wanting to miss out on the final event, both June and Mim discover each other’s strength and weakness, work together to finish the competition, come in “first” as a team, and proudly lead the class line-up wearing their winning medals. Roche’s colorful childlike gouache paintings of feline characters display a traditional, familiar home and school life as she adds detail to her scenes through body and facial movements. This is a well-crafted and believable story sure to relate to any school child facing her own concerns by creating her own solutions. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 24, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-15254-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Hee haw.

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The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Edward and his father work for the Peabody Hotel in Memphis since the Depression has brought hard times for so many. On weekends they return to their farm in the hills and it’s there Edward finds John Philip Duck, named for the composer whose marches Edward listens to on the radio. Edward has to look after the scrawny duckling during the week, so he risks the ire of the hotel manager by taking John Philip with him. The expected occurs when Mr. Shutt finds the duckling. The blustery manager makes Edward a deal. If Edward can train John Philip to swim in the hotel fountain all day (and lure in more customers), Edward and the duck can stay. After much hard work, John Philip learns to stay put and Edward becomes the first Duck Master at the hotel. This half-imagined story of the first of the famous Peabody Hotel ducks is one of Polacco’s most charming efforts to date. Her signature illustrations are a bit brighter and full of the music of the march. An excellent read aloud for older crowds, but the ever-so-slightly anthropomorphic ducks will come across best shared one-on-one. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-24262-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2004

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