FIRST GRADERS FROM MARS

EPISODE 1: HORUS’S HORRIBLE DAY

Horus wears jeans, a striped shirt, and a backpack like any other first grader, but he travels to school in a flying cup (flying saucers are so last century), because his school is on Mars. The students are different types of Martians: some green, some blue, some polka-dotted—and all funny. Corey, who made an auspicious debut with You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer! (2000), offers Episode 1 of the First Graders from Mars series, which describes Horus’s reluctance to leave his martiangarten days behind to move on to first grade. He slurps his soup with the wrong tentacle, tangles with an overly confident Martian girl named Tera, and lands in the Beta reading group (rather than the Alpha group with nemesis Tera). Corey works some simple Martian-style language and clever puns into her story: the Martian kids sit in thinking capsules instead of desks, and the floating, polka-dotted teacher has eyes in the front and back of her head, and on both sides, too. Additional layers of punny humor enhance the full-color, cartoon-style illustrations by Teague (The Great Gracie Chase, p. 188, etc.) who finds something clever to add on every page. Horus has the real fears of any entering first grader, and this story will be popular with kindergarten and first-grade teachers and students, who will be waiting for Episode 2. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-439-26220-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2001

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SEE PIP POINT

From the Adventures of Otto series

In his third beginning reader about Otto the robot, Milgrim (See Otto, 2002, etc.) introduces another new friend for Otto, a little mouse named Pip. The simple plot involves a large balloon that Otto kindly shares with Pip after the mouse has a rather funny pointing attack. (Pip seems to be in that I-point-and-I-want-it phase common with one-year-olds.) The big purple balloon is large enough to carry Pip up and away over the clouds, until Pip runs into Zee the bee. (“Oops, there goes Pip.”) Otto flies a plane up to rescue Pip (“Hurry, Otto, Hurry”), but they crash (and splash) in front of some hippos with another big balloon, and the story ends as it begins, with a droll “See Pip point.” Milgrim again succeeds in the difficult challenge of creating a real, funny story with just a few simple words. His illustrations utilize lots of motion and basic geometric shapes with heavy black outlines, all against pastel backgrounds with text set in an extra-large typeface. Emergent readers will like the humor in little Pip’s pointed requests, and more engaging adventures for Otto and Pip will be welcome additions to the limited selection of funny stories for children just beginning to read. (Easy reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-85116-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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