In this Tonga tale from Aardema (The Lonely Lioness and the Ostrich Chicks, p. 1318, etc.), a rabbit connives and trades with her friends for a drink of water, only to discover that a lie ``may travel far, but the truth will overtake it.'' The book opens when Rabbit tries to sneak a drink of water from a hole she didn't help dig. When Lion and Elephant chase Rabbit away, Ostrich offers to share her berries with the rabbit instead. Sneaky Rabbit eats them all, then places the blame on Ostrich, who, to make peace, offers a feather. The trades continue in a similar vein: Rabbit loses a possession through accident or her own manipulations, only to be compensated with something else. In the end, when the others figure out her schemes, Rabbit gets her comeuppance—a kick in the pants. This tale, which first appeared in Aardema's Behind the Back of the Mountain (1973, o.p.), has been rewritten for the picture-book audience; the meandering quality of the original prevails, as does Rabbit's song after each trade. However, the explicit moral included contrasts with the original Tonga tale, which allows readers and listeners to draw their own conclusions as the animals fire a cannon at the deceitful bunny. This rewrite Westernizes the tale as do the illustrations—the portrayal of Africans borders on stereotypical, and the landscape is fairly flat and nondescript—derogating the origins of the material. (Picture book/folklore. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8037-1553-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1996

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A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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