GOOD LUCK, MRS. K.!

A third grader’s happy year is interrupted when her beloved teacher gets cancer. “Say it like this. . . KEMP-CHIN-SKI!” the exuberant Mrs. Kempczinski counsels her students on the first day of school, and Ann Zesterman takes the advice to heart, saying her teacher’s name over and over, as a litany. Ann loves everything about Mrs. Kempczinski, and under her enthusiastic tutelage the class learns “a zillion facts about planets and penguins, poems and worms.” One day, Mrs. Kempczinski isn’t at school, and Ann and the other children learn that she has cancer. This tender tale ends on a touching but upbeat note with Mrs. Kempczinski coming back for a visit and the news that she returns the following year. But in real life this fact-based story didn’t end so happily, and the book is dedicated to Mrs. K.’s memory. It’s an affecting homage and Borden (The Little Ships, 1997) tells it simply and straight up. Gustavson’s keen pictures have the expressiveness of Norman Rockwell’s illustrations, with people’s faces in warm flesh tones set off by a background of cool greens, grays, and blues; these scenes of a schoolroom in which learning and good hearts coexist subtly augment the book’s message. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-82147-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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ACCIDENTAL LILY

PLB 0-679-99138-7 Since moving to Philadelphia, six-year-old Lily Hill (Private Lily, 1998, etc.) has had almost nightly problems with bad dreams and bed-wetting. Embarrassed by these accidents, she doesn’t see how she can accept a friend’s invitation to a sleepover birthday party. Inventive and persistent, Lily devises a foolproof plan with her brother, Case’she will use a washable sleeping bag and pack an extra set of clothes. To her surprise, Lily also learns that bed-wetting is a common problem among her peers when another child’s problem is carelessly announced to the entire first grade. For those children facing a similar battle, Lily’s fear of exposure and plan of attack will ring true, making this the perfect read-aloud. Gutsy by nature, Lily is not going to let a small problem prevent her from attending her best friend’s birthday party. Brief and satisfying for the audience. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-89138-2

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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BEFORE YOU WERE BORN

THE INSIDE STORY

A well-intentioned description of life before birth. The illustrations make use of photographs (including ultrasound) and artist’s drawings, often in the same image, and these are well used to clarify the text. How babies grow and develop inside the womb is both described and illustrated, and while the tone is one of forced cheer, the information is sound. Also offered are quite silly exercises for children to experience what life in the womb might be like, such as listening to a dishwasher to experience the sounds a baby hears inside its mother’s body, or being held under a towel or blanket by an adult and wiggling about. The getting-together of sperm and egg is lightly passed over, as is the actual process of birth. But children may be mesmerized by the drawings of the growing child inside the mother, and what activities predate their birth dates. Not an essential purchase, but adequate as an addition to the collection. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-894379-01-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Firefly

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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