ALICE AND GRETA

The effects of artistic license become clear in this picture book from Simmons, who shows what happens to two witches who attend the same school, and are taught the same lessons, but find widely different uses for their craft. Alice's bucolic perch on a mountain has a sign that says ``Welcome!'' while Greta's sign warns, ``Keep Away!'' Butterflies and bluebirds attend one child-witch, buzzards and bats the other. When school's out, the stage is set: Alice conjures a wave for a family whose boat is stranded on a sandbar, while Greta conjures a similar wave to wash away a child's sandcastle. More examples of their opposing worldviews follow, but most readers will get the point, and it may be the simple predictability of the plot they will enjoy most. By the time Greta gets her comeuppance—she was not in school the day the most important of witchy lessons was taught, a take on the old what-goes-around- comes-around chestnut—readers will be anticipating the punishment, but not Alice's reward. As a result of all her good deeds, her view from the hill is getting ``better and better,'' with levitating children bearing thank-you notes, cookies, and flowers. Moore has a style like Lynn Munsinger's, with charmingly detailed watercolors that endlessly tinker with the symmetry of the tale—e.g., the bats have come to Alice's side in the last scene. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-88106-974-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1997

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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