Introduced originally in a 1996 picture book, then a made-for-TV movie, space-station-dwelling preteen Zenon Kar kicks off her chapter-book series with a slangy girl-meets-robodog tale. Live pets aren’t allowed aboard Space Station #9, but the new, improved mechanical Tobo dog is better than a real one; it can fly, spout jokes, and even do homework. Zenon’s friends all rush out and get one, but her frackle-pinching father won’t spring for anything pricier than the dopey, inarticulate Bobo model. What a scorch. Zenon is truly flared up, until her teacher awards everyone, except her, a failing mark for letting their dogs do their homework. When all of the Tobos develop tuton shorts in their flystroms and attack their owners, Bobo doesn’t look so bad—but where has he gone? The characters are as abbreviated as the plot, but Bollen adds comical cartoon illustrations to every page of Zenon’s brisk narrative. A glossary helps readers who’ve been put into a Martian mist by her argot, and by the end she and her metal mutt are reunited. No rocket fuel required for this lighter-than-air vehicle. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-679-89249-4

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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