Too funny for its own good.

HOW THIS BOOK WAS MADE

A book tells the story of how it was made.

It all starts, of course, with an idea, which strikes Barnett while arm-wrestling a tiger. An initial “bunch of words on paper” goes through draft after draft, then finally the 21st version is sent to Barnett’s editor (“like a teacher, only she works in a skyscraper”; she’s white, as are Barnett and Rex). The negotiation between author and editor covers several pages (and “most of the United States,” as dashed lines traverse the country, representing the back and forth). Finally, illustrator Rex receives Barnett’s words, and here hysterical vignettes depict Rex sleeping and goofing off as the text says, “he must have been working very hard.” At this point, the book starts to go off the rails, informing readers without explanation that even though it would be faster to print it in the United States, the book goes to China for printing. Then it really gets silly. First there’s a pile of books so large it’s visible from space (an ironic comment on small print runs that will mystify young readers), and then several pages of sheer looniness involving pirates and an eagle, among others, pad the story before readers finally finish it—which completes its creation. Rex’s mixed-media illustrations keep up with the text and pack in plenty of chuckles, but sadly, the verbal embroidery obscures a topic kids might be genuinely interested in.

Too funny for its own good. (Informational picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5220-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent.

HORTON AND THE KWUGGERBUG AND MORE LOST STORIES

Published in magazines, never seen since / Now resurrected for pleasure intense / Versified episodes numbering four / Featuring Marco, and Horton and more!

All of the entries in this follow-up to The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (2011) involve a certain amount of sharp dealing. Horton carries a Kwuggerbug through crocodile-infested waters and up a steep mountain because “a deal is a deal”—and then is cheated out of his promised share of delicious Beezlenuts. Officer Pat heads off escalating, imagined disasters on Mulberry Street by clubbing a pesky gnat. Marco (originally met on that same Mulberry Street) concocts a baroque excuse for being late to school. In the closer, a smooth-talking Grinch (not the green sort) sells a gullible Hoobub a piece of string. In a lively introduction, uber-fan Charles D. Cohen (The Seuss, The Whole Seuss, and Nothing but the Seuss, 2002) provides publishing histories, places characters and settings in Seussian context, and offers insights into, for instance, the origin of “Grinch.” Along with predictably engaging wordplay—“He climbed. He grew dizzy. His ankles grew numb. / But he climbed and he climbed and he clum and he clum”—each tale features bright, crisply reproduced renditions of its original illustrations. Except for “The Hoobub and the Grinch,” which has been jammed into a single spread, the verses and pictures are laid out in spacious, visually appealing ways.

Fans both young and formerly young will be pleased—100 percent. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-38298-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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