Excellent, believable advice, with boxes—what could be better than that? (Picture book. 4-8)

BIG FRIENDS

For those few blighted souls out there who are unaware of this fact, cardboard boxes are a kid’s answer to pretty much everything.

Birt and Etho are a couple of mites with a couple of nice-sized boxes that can launch friendships—and lots of other ships: pirate, flagships, and submarines. Each day they drag the boxes up Sudden Hill and become kings, astronauts, naturalists watching the world go by, ant by ant. Sarah is not goopy with the language, though its pleasing atmosphere can get somewhat filigreed: “Birt loves their two-by-two rhythm.” As will happen, “one Monday morning (it’s cramping cold) they meet another box-carrier.” Etho is ready for a comrade, Birt not so. Indeed, Birt retreats home one night and jumps on his box until it’s flat as an album cover. Birt ignores Shu and Etho’s entreaties to come and play, until...they arrive with a box contraption built for three. It’s a crazy Rube Goldberg device, clattering, careening, crashing: it’s Mr. ClimbFierce or sometimes a Monster-Creature-Box Thing. Of course it is. Birt “loves their three-by-three rhythm. / It’s new. And it’s good.” Davies’ alluring rustic-looking artwork with just the right slants of light salve this story considerably.

Excellent, believable advice, with boxes—what could be better than that? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-330-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best.

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THE SMART COOKIE

From the Food Group series

This smart cookie wasn’t alwaysa smart cookie.

At the corner of Sweet Street stands a bakery, which a whole range of buns and cakes and treats calls home, including a small cookie who “didn’t feel comfortable speaking up or sharing” any ideas once upon a time. During the early days of gingerbread school, this cookie (with sprinkles on its top half, above its wide eyes and tiny, smiling mouth) never got the best grades, didn’t raise a hand to answer questions, and almost always finished most tests last, despite all best efforts. As a result, the cookie would worry away the nights inside of a cookie jar. Then one day, kind Ms. Biscotti assigns some homework that asks everyone “to create something completely original.” What to do? The cookie’s first attempts (baking, building a birdhouse, sculpting) fail, but an idea strikes soon enough. “A poem!” Titling its opus “My Crumby Days,” the budding cookie poet writes and writes until done. “AHA!” When the time arrives to share the poem with the class, this cookie learns that there’s more than one way to be smart. John and Oswald’s latest installment in the hilarious Food Group series continues to provide plenty of belly laughs (thanks to puns galore!) and mini buns of wisdom in a wholly effervescent package. Oswald’s artwork retains its playful, colorful creative streak. Although slightly less effective than its predecessors due to its rather broad message, this one’s nonetheless an excellent addition to the menu.(This book was reviewed digitally.)

A deliciously sweet reminder to try one’s unique best. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304540-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted.

GOING PLACES

Imagination soars—quite literally—when a little girl follows her own set of rules.

Every year Oak Hill School has a go-kart race called the Going Places contest. Students are given identical go-kart kits with a precise set of instructions. And of course, every single kart ends up exactly the same. Every one, that is, except Maya’s. Maya is a dreamy artist, and she would rather sketch birds in her backyard than get caught up in the competition. When she finally does start working, she uses the parts in the go-kart box but creates something completely different. No one ever said it had to be a go-kart. Maya’s creative thinking inspires Rafael, her neighbor (and the most enthusiastic Going Places contestant), to ask to team up. The instructions never say they couldn’t work together, either! An ode to creativity and individuality to be sure, but the Reynolds brothers are also taking a swipe at modern education: Endless repetition and following instructions without question create a culture of conformity. Hopefully now, readers will see infinite possibility every time the system hands them an identical go-kart box.

Not astonishingly go-out-and-buy-it-at-graduation inspirational, but all it takes is one seed of change to be planted. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-6608-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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