Sweet and loving characters can’t quite make up for a lack of plot


King Alice lays down the law when her family is snowbound.

After anointing herself King Alice (“You mean…Queen?” Sir Dad asks; “No! KING!”—but this is not a book about overturning gender norms), the pint-sized monarch decides she and her father will make a book together. With a little nudging from Mom, their story begins with “King Alice the First and the royal brave knights having breakfast.” Chapter 2 continues it with a princess tea party. And so the day goes, with a red-bathrobe–clad Alice moving from activity to activity as her beleaguered father tries to keep up (at one point Alice abruptly begins Chapter 5: “ ‘What happened to chapters 3 and 4…?’ Dad wondered pointlessly”) and her mother takes care of the baby and feeds the family. Cordell gets the aimlessness of a day without structure perfectly as well as the elliptical, arbitrary composition style of a young child in Alice’s writing. Unfortunately, the result is a rather aimless plot, one that seems to place Dad’s frazzlement at its center rather than Alice’s ebullience. Cordell’s characteristically scratchy illustrations depict a happy, mixed-race family (Dad presents white, Mom has brown skin and black hair, and the two children have light-brown skin and black hair) in a comfortably messy house. Alice’s metafictive story appears on faux lined paper and cleverly mirrors the events of the day.

Sweet and loving characters can’t quite make up for a lack of plot . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-04749-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.


A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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