Still, this is a pretty painless way to teach capitalization and letter writing.

THE CASE OF THE INCAPACITATED CAPITALS

Mr. Wright’s class learns the importance of capital letters in this latest from Pulver and Reed.

Feeling underused and ignored, the bandaged and splinted capital letters are not doing their job—they are incapacitated. But life goes on as usual in Mr. Wright’s class, the students not noticing the absence of the uppercases, even when they compose a letter. But Mr. Wright notices. “[W]riting a letter is not the same as texting.” His clueless class takes a while to cotton on to the problem, though, getting wrapped up in guessing Mr. Wright’s nickname. Humorous asides punctuate their teacher’s lesson on capitalization rules and the format for writing a letter (both of which are summed up in the backmatter). But when the kids try to correct their mistakes, they discover the deplorable condition of the uppercase letters. Luckily, the lowercase letters sent out an SOS, and the medics arrive to save the day. A fascinating note caps things off by explaining how capital and small letters got the monikers uppercase and lowercase. Reed’s acrylic-and-digital artwork sports her now-trademark style, childlike figures surrounded by doctored plastic fridge magnets. But this is not as strong as their other language-arts titles, Pulver taking too long setting up the story.

Still, this is a pretty painless way to teach capitalization and letter writing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2402-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

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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