Stylized hysteria of the aren't-kids-comical sort—which kids seem to divide on as firmly as adults. The Megglethorp offspring aren't mean or disobedient, just "difficult" (or, from a child's point of view, perfectly reasonable): Timothy, the oldest, is "impatient with grownups who" don't say what they mean; Amy, in the middle, likes to be left alone; and Douglas John doesn't want to grow up—adults are just too unimaginative. So they have foisted upon them for a week (while their parents are away) the well-recommended but ill-suited Miss Hildegarde Brasscoat—who asks meaningless questions, hates idleness, and has no imagination. Not even the kids' harmless capers in response to her "How lazy can you get?" (or "How dumb. . ." or "How messy. . .") can get a rise out of hidebound Miss B. But when Tim's pet crab gets loose, turns up in the chipped beef, and slithers around the table, she cracks up and—"How silly can I get?"—does a madcap parrot imitation. With that, the awful week ends in mutual adoration. There's not an inert, uninflected moment—but only Naylor's bravura style separates most of this from sitcom TV.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1979

ISBN: 0440406080

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1979

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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