THE INSIDE-OUTSIDE BOOK OF TEXAS

In another inside-outside book, Munro tackles the big state of Texas in a giant-sized format and vividly colorful style. While similar in many ways to previous titles in her series, the palette here is particularly bold and vibrant. The routine and expected sites such as the Alamo and Dallas skyline are paired with less-well-known sites like Palo Duro Canyon, the Antique Sewing Machine Museum, and the Devil's Rope Museum—devoted to barb wire. Sometimes the choices of illustration are puzzling as a spread, including a busy harbor, labeled "shrimp in Port Isabel," which only shows tiny pink sploshes of color in a cooler. Another labeled "Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston" appears to be the view from inside a space helmet, until the page is turned to reveal it's really outside the neutral buoyancy lab where folks are inside, floating in liquid. A map and informative five pages of text follow colorful illustrations with these minimal labels. Piquing children's interest before dosing them with fascinating facts and trivia makes this a lively read that bears study. Not adequate for reports, it does work as an enticement for tourists. True Texans may quibble at what is not included, but given a state with the fourth and ninth largest cities in the United States along with vast rural areas, it probably isn't possible to cover everything. (Nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58717-050-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: SeaStar/North-South

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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