SCRITCH SCRATCH

Making a brave effort to pair hilarity with head lice, Moss and Durand (The Snoops, 1998) follow a tiny six-legger “no bigger than a freckle,” as she (we know because she sports a pink bow) drops into a teacher’s frizzy head and proceeds to sing a happy tune—“Oh . . . no one knows from where I came, / A nit, a nibbler with no name . . . ”—as she deposits eggs on every hair. Soon the teacher is scratching; shortly thereafter, so is the entire class. Durand’s cartoon illustrations are filled with small children and smaller insects (each with distinct personalities) going about their business with similar energy and good cheer. First the children are treated, but the plague isn’t halted until children and teacher both are dosed with “special conditioner,” and even then, sharp-eyed viewers may spot the tiny survivor peeking from a corner of the final spread. Parents may not find this all that amusing—but it is a painless way to bring up an unpleasant topic, and the accurate representation of how easily nits and lice spread will help children (and adults) understand the necessity of vigilance. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-439-36835-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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