A comic introduction to the plays and words of Shakespeare that’s lighthearted and sure to please.

FLIBBERTIGIBBETY WORDS

YOUNG SHAKESPEARE CHASES INSPIRATION

“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.”

Literally chasing inspiration, young William runs through the streets, gardens, waters, and woods of Elizabethan England, in search of the flibbertigibbety words that flew in through his window one day and then escaped, in this whimsical, metaphorical ode to the language and plays of Shakespeare. Each spread features well-known phrases from a play, as the lad’s future characters—a multiracial group, in a nod to diversity in modern casting—stand on a balcony, ride in a carriage, or stir a boiling pot, as appropriate to their roles. Playful and idiosyncratic illustrations are full of action and energy and evoke the sense of a European fairy tale as they portray the determined boy’s seemingly unsuccessful search. At a loss for words, William finally returns home and reveals his plight to a local peddler he passed earlier—who, in addition to pretty ribbons, also happens to sell paper and pens, which might be just what young William needs to capture his elusive target. This cheeky, kid-friendly tale is full of creativity and humor and will work for many age groups on many levels—and it answers the age-old question of where authors find ideas (and words). Both William and the peddler present white.

A comic introduction to the plays and words of Shakespeare that’s lighthearted and sure to please. (author’s note, quotations with sources, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64567-062-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Page Street

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2020

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Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic.

STICKS AND STONES

Veteran picture-book creator Polacco tells another story from her childhood that celebrates the importance of staying true to one’s own interests and values.

After years of spending summers with her father and grandmother, narrator Trisha is excited to be spending the school year in Michigan with them. Unexpectedly abandoned by her summertime friends, Trisha quickly connects with fellow outsiders Thom and Ravanne, who may be familiar to readers from Polacco’s The Junkyard Wonders (2010). Throughout the school year, the three enjoy activities together and do their best to avoid school bully Billy. While a physical confrontation between Thom (aka “Sissy Boy”) and Billy does come, so does an opportunity for Thom to defy convention and share his talent with the community. Loosely sketched watercolor illustrations place the story in the middle of the last century, with somewhat old-fashioned clothing and an apparently all-White community. Trisha and her classmates appear to be what today would be called middle schoolers; a reference to something Trisha and her mom did when she was “only eight” suggests that several years have passed since that time. As usual, the lengthy first-person narrative is cozily conversational but includes some challenging vocabulary (textiles, lackeys, foretold). The author’s note provides a brief update about her friends’ careers and encourages readers to embrace their own differences. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Deliberately inspirational and tinged with nostalgia, this will please fans but may strike others as overly idealistic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-2622-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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