PUNCTUATION TAKES A VACATION

In a delightfully clever outing, a well-earned vacation results in chaos back in school when the punctuation marks head to Take-A-Break Lake. Mr. Wright’s class uses and abuses punctuation marks, without ever really giving them a thought and the marks put up with it all. But when Mr. Wright needs relief from teaching on a hot day and says, “Let’s give punctuation a vacation,” they discuss the matter (each mark uttering a sentence needing its own kind of punctuation, of course), and decide they should take a trip to prove to the kids just how needed they are. As the students struggle to understand anything in their classroom, each mark writes a postcard to the class showing off his or her special skills in punctuating sentences. The students finally borrow some mixed-up punctuation from the class next door and write to the vacationers begging them to return and promising that they will never be taken for granted again. Pulver (Way to Go, Alex, not reviewed, etc.) has outdone herself in this ingenious take on learning. Everything from the punctuation marks’ postcards to the endpapers emphasizes the importance of punctuation in our everyday lives. Reed’s (The Halloween Showdown, 1998, etc.) whimsical, child-like paintings put faces on each character, bringing them further to life as they cavort on the shores of the lake. What a fun way to teach; every language arts teacher needs this to punctuate their instruction, no matter the grade level. (Fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2003

ISBN: 0-8234-1687-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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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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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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