A sweet, if uneven, story.

THE BIG FIB

From the I Like To Read series

A fib made right paves the way to intergenerational friendship.

When Miss Finn gets rid of a bunch of boxes (presumably to recycle them, though this detail is unexplained), her young neighbor and his dog seize an opportunity for imaginary play. The scene showing the elderly woman carrying the boxes out on the lawn depicts her as rather fearsome, or at least cranky, and the boy and his dog look on with rather alarmed expressions. When she is safely gone, they exuberantly pretend the boxes are a train, a race car and a jet. The controlled text unfortunately fails to match their ebullience and comes across as stilted in its efforts to employ repetition. “Then we played a race car game. We went fast, fast, fast.” Miss Finn then reappears, arms waving and red all over, dismayed by the mess. It’s hard to blame the boy for fibbing and blaming the wind, and the fib doesn’t seem all that big, which undermines the story a bit. After watching her struggle to pick up the boxes, he comes clean and offers help, prompting Miss Finn to laud his honesty and change her tune. Hamilton’s cartoonish, multimedia art reflects her changed affect by softening her expression as she serves milk and cookies and hunkers down to play with the boy and his dog amid the tidied boxes.

A sweet, if uneven, story. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2939-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea...

SAME, SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Although today’s kids usually communicate through texting or email, Elliot from the United States and Kailash from India use pictures and a few simple sentences to exchange information about their lives. 

Their teachers facilitate the snail mailing of pictorial letters, just as the author-illustrator did when she visited Nepal, which provided the inspiration for this book. The title, also used as a refrain throughout the book, is a popular saying in India and Nepal, heard by Kostecki-Shaw when she traveled there. Elliot and Kailash explore their similarities and differences, concluding that their lives are “Different, different but the SAME!” The engaging childlike acrylic paintings with crayon, pencil, tissue paper and other collage elements show the busy crowded American streets of Elliot’s city, the traditional buildings of Kailash’s riverside village, the taxis and buses in the States and the taxis and camel-pulled carts in India. The English alphabet is reproduced on wide-ruled notebook paper and the Hindi alphabet (unfortunately unidentified) on a small slate, and both typical American pets (dog and fish) and a whole farmyard of Indian animals appear. Both kids live unusually low-tech lives (no computers or cell phones in sight), but they each enjoy learning about their pen pal’s world.

Purposeful, but saved from didacticism by the sheer exuberance of the illustrations; the accessible text introduces the idea of traditional two-way communication and demonstrates just how small our world can be. (Picture book. 5-7) 

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8946-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

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An early reader that kids will want to befriend.

NOT ME!

In an odd-couple pairing of Bear and Chipmunk, only one friend is truly happy to spend the day at the beach.

“Not me!” is poor Chipmunk’s lament each time Bear expresses the pleasure he takes in sunning, swimming, and other activities at the beach. While controlled, repetitive text makes the story accessible to new readers, slapstick humor characterizes the busy watercolor-and-ink illustrations and adds interest. Poor Chipmunk is pinched by a crab, buried in sand, and swept upside down into the water, to name just a few mishaps. Although other animal beachgoers seem to notice Chipmunk’s distress, Bear cheerily goes about his day and seems blithely ignorant of his friend’s misfortunes. The playful tone of the illustrations helps soften the dynamic so that it doesn’t seem as though Chipmunk is in grave danger or that Bear is cruel. As they leave at the end of the book Bear finally asks, “Why did you come?” and Chipmunk’s sweet response caps off the day with a warm sunset in the background.

An early reader that kids will want to befriend. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3546-3

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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