Soto (Fearless Fernie, p. 52, etc.) offers a complex take on the “giving is better than receiving” sentiment in this gentle lesson on what really matters.  Eight-year-old Rigo’s resentment builds over the preponderance of hand-me-down clothes he inherits from his three older brothers until he can’t take it anymore and he throws the latest worn-out batch into the garbage can and pleads for something brand new.  Sure enough, new loafers are in the works, but even they turn out to be a problem.  Finally he gives them to his Uncle Celso, and this act signals a distinct and empowering shift in Rigo.  For the first time, Rigo sees himself as part of the giving community, an important contributor to the family’s well being.  He also learns about pride, and how having pride in who you are can be a useful tool in confronting fear.  When his Uncle Celso, overjoyed at Rigo’s generosity, gives Rigo a couple of Mexican pennies and notes the coins are even older than he is, Rigo plans to save them for the slots of new loafers if he ever gets any.  But the pennies also provide him a new source of strength and courage when it comes to his dealings with the world outside his family.  Sprinkled throughout the text are italicized words in Spanish, accompanied by a back-page glossary, a subtle reinforcement of the story’s setting.  Widener’s (The Christmas Cobwebs, 2001, etc.) lively illustrations of Rigo and his family establish a warm, inviting tone, exuding friendliness without being cliché-ridden or saccharine-coated.  (Picture book.  5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23420-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002

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Each time the witch loses something in the windy weather, she and her cat are introduced to a new friend who loves flying on her broom. The fluid rhyming and smooth rhythm work together with one repetitive plot element focusing young attention spans until the plot quickens. (“Is there room on the broom for a blank such as me?”) When the witch’s broom breaks, she is thrown in to danger and the plot flies to the finish. Her friends—cat, dog, frog, and bird—are not likely to scare the dragon who plans on eating the witch, but together they form a formidable, gooey, scary-sounding monster. The use of full-page or even page-and-a-half spreads for many of the illustrations will ensure its successful use in story times as well as individual readings. The wart-nosed witch and her passengers make magic that is sure to please. Effective use of brilliant colors set against well-conceived backgrounds detail the story without need for text—but with it, the story—and the broom—take off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2557-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...


Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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