COUNTRY KID, CITY KID

Cummins (Tomboy of the Air, 2001, etc.) gives us her take on the comparison of country life to city life in this typical, but cheerful, rendering. Readers follow the lives of Ben, who lives on a farm, and Jody, who lives in an apartment building, as a side-by-side description of each child’s daily routine unfolds. When Ben wakes up he hears the sounds of birds and cows. When Jody wakes up she hears horns and sirens. Ben gets his mail at a mailbox down the road. Jody gets hers in the lobby of her apartment building—and so on. The author’s simple language has an instructional feel and so do Rand’s (Good Night, Hattie, My Dearie, My Dove, p. 345, etc.) skillfully detailed and literal watercolors. This combination comes off as a bit monotonous, but very accessible. What gives the narrative a nice twist is how Ben and Jody’s lives intersect towards the end. Every summer Ben goes away to Camp Eagle Ridge. Then readers find out that Jody “is excited about her first time at Camp Eagle Ridge.” The two meet at the camp, become friends, and afterwards Ben sends Jody a map of constellations he can see from his bedroom window. She sends him a city street map and marks her favorite places. Country life and city life seem as similar as they are different, but young readers might side with country life. Ben gets to cut down his own Christmas tree in the forest instead of buying it on the street like Jody. Ben also goes to Camp Eagle Ridge every year. What’s more, he has a dog. There’s something here for both kinds of kids to think about. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8050-6467-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2002

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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