WANDA’S MONSTER

A wonderfully insouciant approach to taking care of those pesky critters that lurk in closets. When Wanda cowers in fear of the monster she’s sure inhabits her closet, her family tries the traditional methods of allaying her fears. Yet Dad shines a light inside, Mom does a thorough cleaning, and her older brother scoffs at her concerns, to no avail. It’s Granny who helps Wanda see things in a different light. Granny believes there just might be a monster hiding inside Wanda’s closet and she cautions her to feel sympathy instead of fear for the poor little guy; after all, she reveals, monsters are notoriously shy. Granny’s unique perspective enables Wanda to overcome her worries. Soon she’s tossing toys, pillows, and other creature comforts into the closet for her resident monster. When it’s time for the monster to move on—Granny advises they only stay for 17 days—Wanda is ready, too. Spinelli (Here Comes the Year, p. 265, etc.) addresses a common childhood dilemma with panache and wit. Fearful closet-phobes will soon be longing for a monster of their own to pamper. Hayashi’s (What Did You Do Today, p. 486, etc.) watercolor-and-pencil illustrations strike just the right balance between pragmatism and whimsy. Vibrantly colored vignettes depicting familiar domestic scenes are juxtaposed with delightfully quirky depictions of a purple, horned, long-nosed, and rather pitiful-looking monster sequestered in the closet. A must for chasing away those nighttime jitters with a hearty dose of giggles. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8075-8656-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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