JACOB'S BEST SISTERS

A replica of a log cabin, the prize for answering a question on the back of a cereal box correctly, arrives at Jacob's house; when he lifts off the roof, he sees four sleeping girl dolls. That night, after Jacob wishes his parents good-night, the dolls come to life, and they are an exacting bunch: They're hungry, they want a bath, they want new clothes made for them, etc. Jacob notes that they aren't behaving like stalwart pioneers, so he takes on the role, ingeniously satisfying the girls' demands. Then comes an unexpected hint of sadness when Jacob tells the girls a story: ``Once upon a time there was a little boy who wanted a log cabin. He was a very lonely little boy and when he got the log cabin he was going to pretend he lived there.'' The book ends on an ambiguous note—was Jacob dreaming? Jam's story is a rich stew, by turns charming and disarming, sweet and clever, and touched with melancholy. Fitzgerald's illustrations are amiable confections that do their best to capture the many layers of the tale. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-88899-229-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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Not exactly out of this world but a pleaser just the same.

THERE'S AN ALIEN IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

Earth friends are easy to make for this roly-poly, extraterrestrial cutie.

Fletcher pens the fourth in his interactive book series, this time invading his pages with a crash-landed ET. At first readers are encouraged to tell the space being to shove off, but pretty quickly it becomes clear that it’s just too adorable to send away like that. Mostly yellow, it looks like nothing more than a smiley face with antennae, its oversized head occupying more volume than its trunk, arms, legs, and tail combined. The undersides of its hands, feet, and tail are bright green. Repairing its damaged spaceship is out of the question, and attempts to launch it into space by having readers bounce, turn, and lift the book are fruitless. Does it belong here? Well, when readers stop to consider all the creatures that live on this planet (including a cameo by the author in the art), we can recognize that “we’re all weird and wonderful.” So the alien stays and even makes a friend with the star of There’s a Monster in Your Book (2017). The story makes mild overtures toward the idea of embracing our differences no matter our appearance, but that’s all superseded by the interactive elements. By now the series is treading familiar ground, but fans will find the combination of cute creatures and gentle moralizing a comfort.

Not exactly out of this world but a pleaser just the same. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12512-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Another engaging outing.

THERE'S A WITCH IN YOUR BOOK

From the Who's in Your Book? series

When a witch crash-lands into this book, she’ll need help from readers in tidying up her messes.

The newest in Fletcher and Abbott’s Who’s in Your Book? series stars a mischievous, messy witch. With text instructing readers directly, children will use their “finger wands” to turn the witch into a cat and pop bubble bunnies. There’s even a spell that makes a hole in some pages, an orifice through which readers push excess slime. All of the fun ends with a cleaned-up book and a sleepover with little monsters. The built-in reader participation is a serious trademark, and most of the actions can be accomplished either one-on-one with an adult or in a group setting. Abbott’s illustrations hit on the cute side of spooky, the smiling, redheaded witch with classic green skin and a pointed black hat, a cauldron, and a broomstick. All of the backgrounds are simple bright colors, purples, pinks, blue, and orange, zeroing the focus in on the messy action. Careful observers will notice a torn blue hole drawn on the copyright page, illustrating the witch’s crash into the book. It’s tried-and-true rather than surprising at this point, but the simple and straightforward formula will certainly appeal to readers. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another engaging outing. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12515-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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