SCATTERBRAIN SAM

Faulkner’s (Black Belt, not reviewed, etc.) art waxes more riotously exuberant than ever in Jackson’s heavily modified Welsh folktale. Though Sam seems happy enough being a total doofus, the town gossip finally wears him down to the point of asking a “widder” conversant with “lotions and potions and whatnot,” for some smarts. Brawny, brown-skinned, and distinctly larger than life, she sets to stirring up a huge pot of Glue Stew to stick Sam’s brains together, sending him out for ingredients that she describes in impenetrable (to Sam, at least) riddles. Luckily, Sam has a riddle-solving friend in fresh-faced barnstormer Maizie Mae. Faulkner turns even the hills and buildings into interested spectators as Sam, a Hugh Grant lookalike, shuttles back and forth between the Widder’s barber-pole-striped lighthouse and enlightening, increasingly romantic rendezvous with Maizie Mae. Finished at last, the Glue Stew spills gooily through town, bringing the young folk to a satisfying clinch in front of the church door. Belly laughs and bravos will punctuate every reading of this fresh, funny recasting. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-88106-394-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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THUNDER ROSE

Nolen and Nelson offer a smaller, but no less gifted counterpart to Big Jabe (2000) in this new tall tale. Shortly after being born one stormy night, Rose thanks her parents, picks a name, and gathers lightning into a ball—all of which is only a harbinger of feats to come. Decked out in full cowboy gear and oozing self-confidence from every pore, Rose cuts a diminutive, but heroic figure in Nelson’s big, broad Western scenes. Though she carries a twisted iron rod as dark as her skin and ropes clouds with fencing wire, Rose overcomes her greatest challenge—a pair of rampaging twisters—not with strength, but with a lullaby her parents sang. After turning tornadoes into much-needed rain clouds, Rose rides away, “that mighty, mighty song pressing on the bull’s-eye that was set at the center of her heart.” Throughout, she shows a reflective bent that gives her more dimension than most tall-tale heroes: a doff of the Stetson to her and her creators. (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216472-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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