LORETTA

ACE PINKY SCOUT

Loretta’s goal to be the latest in a long line of perfect Pinky Scouts is foiled by her inability to toast a marshmallow to golden perfection. Other outrageous tasks, like saving the world, bench-pressing 375, and building a snowman atop Mt. Everest are no problem for the plucky scout, but she cringes in shame before a portrait of her grandmother, “The most perfect Pinky ever.” Gran’s portrait, speaking in a gratingly perky manner, declares to the distraught girl, “Well, girlfriend, stinking is part of life,” and confesses that her perfectly knotted bowtie is a clip-on! Not only that, each of Loretta’s ostensibly perfect ancestors all had fatal flaws themselves. Loretta is finally able to sleep well, stating that she likes her marshmallows raw anyway. The message isn’t new, and the snarky smirk on Loretta’s face is perfectly annoying, but Graves (Uncle Blubbafink’s Seriously Ridiculous Stories, 2001, etc.) adds some levity by exaggerating the quest for merit badges among Scouts to the level of caricature. The illustrations portray the perfect ladies, complete with smirks of their own, and Loretta herself with ludicrously large heads and absurdly small bodies, hands, and feet, emphasizing Loretta’s firmly styled braids and upswept bangs and her determined facial expressions as she furiously bench presses and scorches marshmallows. The irritatingly hearty tone is reminiscent of the overly enthusiastic coaches, camp counselors, scout leaders, and peers everyone can recall. Ace Scout Loretta isn’t particularly appealing, but perhaps she’s not meant to be—perfectionism is not a desirable trait, and children may recognize a bit of Loretta in themselves before it gets out of hand. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-439-36831-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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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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