NINE FOR CALIFORNIA

Levitin (Evil Encounter, p. 533, etc.) finds an outlandish premise for her story of one family's stagecoach trip to California in the late 1800s, a story that also happily found Smith's winsome illustrations. Incidents in the book are based on letters and diaries of travelers (and in the fictional frame, a lot of information about stagecoaches is amicably bestowed upon readers), but there was probably never a trip like this one. When Pa sends a letter saying, ``Come to California, my dears. I am lonely without you,'' Mama and her five children pack, with Mama's sack of needfuls growing fatter by the minute. Rounding out the group for the 21-day trip are a banker, a teacher, and Cowboy Charlie. Baby Betsy throws up on the banker, then gets the hiccups. Mama quiets them all with sugar lumps from her sack. For lunch it's the stage driver's beans and Mama's prunes. Is everybody having fun yet? When this credibility-straining journey's over, readers may ask what Pa's doing for a living now since he was a bust as a miner, or why Mama puts up so gleefully with his sexist comments when they meet. Go West? Maybe not by stagecoach. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-531-09527-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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