STUART’S CAPE

Zany, naïve sketches complement a sure-fire winner. Stuart is about to enter third grade in his new town of Punbury. Is he worried? You betcha. “What if there were man-eating spiders in his new bedroom closet? Or a man eating spiders? What if he got lost? What if no one wanted to be his friend?” While waiting anxiously for school to begin, Stuart decides he wants to have an adventure and, in order to do so, he needs a cape. Ever ingenious, he fashions one out of ties and staples, adding a purple sock for a secret pocket. Voilà! The cape is just the thing for inviting adventures of all kinds: a dinosaur, horse, and a gorilla teach him how to play pretend; Aunt Bubbles’s angel food cake allows him to fly; a catapulted pound cake brings him to earth again; and he finds his soul mate in the person of a garbage man who had been temporarily turned into a cat. The wackiness prevails, right until it is time for Stuart to start school. Pennypacker’s obvious plays on words are perfect for young readers just beginning to read chapter books. Ample white space, generous font, familiar vocabulary, Matje’s (A Pig Named Perrier, p. 428, etc.) frequent goofy illustrations, and over-the-top situations will leave young readers wishing they had a magic cape. Readers who like Captain Underpants have a new choice, one that will make them howl and will not make their parents squirm. (Fiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-439-30180-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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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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