Booford is the dog who just moved into the house across the street from ten-year-old Hayley Larken. Gregarious, animal-loving Hayley is outraged because Booford's owner, mean Mr. Wood, yells at the dog and never takes him for walks. She concocts schemes to get Mr. Wood to walk Booford, but finally follows her father's advice and just asks Mr. Wood if she can walk his dog. To Hayley's surprise, he agrees. Hayley begins walking Booford and making friends with Mr. Wood, who is not really mean at all, merely lonely. She discovers that Mr. Wood's wife has left him ``to find herself'' and that Booford was her dog. No wonder Mr. Wood looks so sad! Hayley then decides to help Mr. Wood just as she had helped the now happy Booford. But calling Mr. Wood's wife in Richmond is going too far. After a small blowup and a little drama, Hayley realizes that butting in to Mr. Wood's life is not the answer. The best thing she can do for him is just to be his friend. Smith pulls out all the standard children's-book tricks here: the not-really-mean next-door neighbor; the kindly, all-knowing dad; the spunky, busy-body heroine and her Trekkie best friend. The lack of a reunion between Mr. Wood and his wife is the only somewhat surprising element, but Smith makes even that seem conventional. A write-by-numbers novel. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 1994

ISBN: 0-395-66590-6

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere.

1001 BEES

This book is buzzing with trivia.

Follow a swarm of bees as they leave a beekeeper’s apiary in search of a new home. As the scout bees traverse the fields, readers are provided with a potpourri of facts and statements about bees. The information is scattered—much like the scout bees—and as a result, both the nominal plot and informational content are tissue-thin. There are some interesting facts throughout the book, but many pieces of trivia are too, well trivial, to prove useful. For example, as the bees travel, readers learn that “onion flowers are round and fluffy” and “fennel is a plant that is used in cooking.” Other facts are oversimplified and as a result are not accurate. For example, monofloral honey is defined as “made by bees who visit just one kind of flower” with no acknowledgment of the fact that bees may range widely, and swarm activity is described as a springtime event, when it can also occur in summer and early fall. The information in the book, such as species identification and measurement units, is directed toward British readers. The flat, thin-lined artwork does little to enhance the story, but an “I spy” game challenging readers to find a specific bee throughout is amusing.

Friends of these pollinators will be best served elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-500-65265-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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