A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS

A derelict house on top of a hill beckons two young children.

Two children, possibly siblings, approach the waiting house on a winding, weed-covered path, all the while wondering about its past and those who dwelled within its walls. An empty window invites them to climb in. The tale is not told by the children but by an unseen narrator who seems to speak directly to the readers watching these events from outside the pages. The explorers find all sorts of items that were left behind, while the narrator asks, “Who looked in this mirror?” “Who napped in this chair?” “Who was this someone…who’s gone but is still everywhere?” The language is direct, appealing equally to ear, eye, and mind. Intricate double-page spreads allow readers to follow the children as they explore and imagine and then return to their own cozy home. Smith’s illustrations neatly separate action from imagination. The children and present-day house are depicted with blotted-line India ink, appearing a bit faded and mysterious (the children’s skin takes on the color of the paper beneath). Their imagined house dwellers’ activities are painted in bright, light-filled oils with paper collage; the soft edges of these reveal narrow white backgrounds, effectively separating them from now. It is all perfectly seamless; words and art are interwoven in a dance that enchants.

Inventive and lovely. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62672-314-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and...

THE LITTLE RED PEN

Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one’s best.

Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the “Pit of No Return” (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen’s insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens’ delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser.

Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher’s desk. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 18, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-15-206432-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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