Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Adventures of Ook and Gluk Kung-Fu Cavemen From the Future

Booklist (September 15, 2010 (Vol. 107, No. 2))
Grades 2-4. Caveboys Ook and Gluk live in Caveland, Ohio, during the Stone Age, 500,001 BC, and they spend a lot of time annoying Chief Goppernopper, the ruler of Caveland, and fighting with Mog-Mog the Tyrannosaurus rex. One day, Goppernopper and the boys come across people from the future stealing natural resources. Ook and Gluk, along with baby Tyrannosaurus Lily, pass through the time machine into 2222 AD—a future in which Goppernopper Enterprises is reaping huge profits by despoiling the past—and learn kung fu to take on the evil corporation and save their own time. Pilkey uses the same style of art and irreverent humor as in his Captain Underpants books (in fact, this book is ostensibly created by the fourth-grade heroes of those books, George Beard and Harold Hutchins). Ook and Gluk—and all the inhabitants of Caveland for that matter—speak in poor, misspelled grammar (“Me shure hope this works”). This wild graphic novel will appeal to those who like silly adventures, puke-based humor, and kung-fu fighting.

Till Death Do Us Bark

Kirkus Review (April 1, 2011)
The third installment in this cheery little series set in the town of Ghastly adds severalnew characters: siblings Kitty and Kanine Breth and a dog loud enough to wake the dead. Once again, the sisters Klise deliver their story through letters, newspaper articles, notes and transcripts, all illustrated with M. Sarah Klise's delightfully imaginative drawings. Seymour finds a dog, which everyone knows was owned by the recently deceased Noah Breth and which Seymour intends to keep. The dog, "Secret," barks all night, however, disturbing even ghosts. Shadow the cat disappears, while Olive and Ignatius begin squabbling. Attempting to restore harmony, Seymour takes Secret and leaves. Meanwhile, the greedy heirs of Noah Breth arrive to squabble over his fortune. Rare coins keep turning up all over town. Everyone looks for Seymour and Secret. As always, the authors keep readers giggling with the clever, usually death-related names invented for their characters (M. Balm, Fay Tality and Mike Ondolences). Phrases turn nicely as well: During a written and rather heated conversation between Ignatius and Olive, she writes, "I refuse to continue this conversation if you're going to raise your font at me." Good, merry fun dances on every page, with bubbling humor for child and adult alike. (Humor. 8-12)

Look! A Book!

Booklist (February 15, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 12))
Preschool-Grade 3. From dinosaurs to flying saucers, mummies to robots, a glorious cornucopia of stuff to find hides in plain sight on the pages of this picture book. At first glance, the format is familiar to children who know Jean Marzollo’s I Spy series: a poem includes clues to items that appear on a colorful companion spread. Dig a little deeper, though, and more layers of fun unfold. Between the dizzying, packed scenes are quieter pages with round die-cuts that expose a few more rhyming items to find. Staake’s vivid, energetic digital illustrations are brash and colorful, with a mid-century spin and a style reminiscent of J. Otto Seibold’s artwork. Young viewers will want to watch for characters and objects that often reappear in incongruous vignettes (what’s that ogre doing in the submarine?). A concluding foldout page offers an invitation to start over with a countdown of more things to hunt for. An ebullient, witty title that children will return to again and again.

Emma Dilemma Big Sister Poems

Horn Book (January/February, 2011)
A picture book aimed squarely at girls with younger sisters hits its mark with thirty-four poems that cover the highs and lows of big sisterhood. Fourth-grader Jess describes daily life with almost-four-year-old Emma, who adores and simultaneously annoys her sister. The straightforward, honest poems contain a whole range of feelings: embarrassment ('Soccer Game': 'My friends are cracking up, / pointing at that little kidÉwho's jumping up and downÉwaving her feather boa '); fury ('Trespass': 'Someone / drew a face / on my soccer ball. / Someone is hiding / and had better hope / I never find her'); affection ('Emma's Hand': 'Emma's hand is / just the right size / to fit / inside mine'); and pure terror ('Below': 'Emma, so small / below me / on the ground. / Not moving. / Just crying'). Likewise, Carpenter's illustrations capture both the endearing and irritating qualities of preschool-aged girls, while the expressions on Jess's face capture every nuance of her feelings about Emma. To top it off, the poems and art tell an absorbing story -- complete with a few tense moments and a warm, believable conclusion -- widening the audience and making this book more than just an opportunity for big sisters to nod their heads in total recognition. JENNIFER M. BRABANDER

Chicks Run Wild

Publishers Weekly (November 1, 2010)
The toddler chicks in this rowdy bedtime book think a good time consists of jumping on the bed, pillow fights, and cartwheels once their Mama closes the bedroom door. Each time Mama discovers the chicks' shenanigans, she settles them down and gives them "One more kiss for each dear child," but it's never long before they are back at it again. Jenkins's rambunctious, roly-poly chicks resemble fuzzy yellow Easter eggs, differentiated by patterned pajamas, a hair bow, and some Harry Potter glasses; all five chicks exude mischief when pretending to sleep, glee when misbehaving, and alarm when Mama finds them out. It's a great concept, though lumbering verse ("They begin a pillow fight/ in the middle of the night./ As the feathers fill the air.../ they see Mama standing there!") deflates some of the excitement. Luckily, Jenkins's artwork has enthusiasm to spare, and he has great fun with the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" ending that has the tired chicks begging Mama to go to sleep and has Mama running wild herself: by painting her toenails and watching a TV romance. Ages 2-6. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cousins of Clouds Elephant Poems

School Library Journal (April 1, 2011) Gr 3-6-This slim collection of poems and factoids celebrates the "wonders of elephants," from glorious winged creatures of myth to the realities of their precarious modern existence. With a wide-ranging stock of lore and fact, Vaughn limns the complex relationship between humans and the largest land animals. In "Inspiration," she observes that their image is "etched in the imagination/of all mankind,/a behemoth of hope." Poems like "Ivory" and "Grace," however, remind readers that elephants have been hunted and used for hard labor and public performance. The poignant "Beggars of Bangkok" offers a sad glimpse of the animals uprooted and trapped in an urban landscape. This collection offers food for thought in its array of facts and gentle verses, along with its naive, mixed-media collage art. "Fortress" graphically depicts the protective instincts of female elephants, while "Elephant Blues" places cartoon drawings and verses atop colored sheets of music. On an eye-catching spread, "Memory" evokes the humanlike emotions of elephants: "She detours through brush/to caress the sun-bleached bones/of her lost sister." This well-crafted book has terrific classroom-connection potential, and should resonate with a wide audience of animal lovers.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Booklist (April 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 15)) Preschool-Grade 2. Illustrated with bright fabric-and-paper collages, this picture book brings a wry twist to the usual clique-outsider story. “Most chameleons like to blend in. But not Chamelia” begins the short, simple text. Chamelia prefers to stand out. And she does. She dances in the classroom, plays soccer in high heels and sequins, and rides her bike in dazzling, flowered ensembles. When she climbs onto the school bus in a long, trailing princess outfit, though, things get out of hand with her scowling classmates, and she finally learns that she can join in––and be herself at the same time. Most outsiders will recognize that becoming accepted by the popular crowd is harder than Chamelia makes it look. Still, children will easily respond to the hilarious illustrations of Chamelia’s teacher and classmates in tailored, bland outfits, feeling uncomfortable with prima donna Chamelia, who leaps around in elaborate costumes. A factual reminder that chameleons survive by changing and blending in closes this title, which will leave children talking about the rewards and challenges of being yourself.

The Boy Who Cried Ninja

Booklist (April 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 15)) Preschool-Grade 2. Naturally, Tim’s folks are having none of his excuses that a ninja snuck in and ate the last piece of cake; that an astronaut absconded with Dad’s hammer; and that a giant squid ate his book bag. So they send him out to rake the leaves and think about his lying ways. But when he decides to take the heat for the pirate who drinks all the tea, the sunburned crocodile who breaks the TV antenna, and the time-traveling monkey who throws pencils at sleeping Grampa, his parents get mad all the same, and it’s back to yard work for punishment. Tim realizes he just can’t win, so he invites over all the ne’er-do-wells getting him in trouble to prove his innocence, and his parents promise to buy him 100 ice-cream cones to say they’re sorry. With goofy, wide-eyed, stick-legged, plump-middled figures and just the sort of lunacy that could have sprung from an impish young imagination, this picture book makes for a cheerful, lightly subversive kids’ point-of-view rejoinder to the lesson of owning up for your actions.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Where's Walrus?

Horn Book (March/April, 2011) A sleeping zookeeper, wide-open gates, a clever walrus -- a slow day at the city zoo is about to get a lot more interesting. In this wordless look-and-find book, the walrus escapes from his small pool and heads out the gates; the now-alert zookeeper immediately sets off in pursuit. But everywhere he looks, from the fountain to the diner, from the construction site to the theater, the walrus is nowhere to be found. Or is he? With the right headgear and attitude, the walrus hides easily in plain sight over and over again. Preschoolers will love being one step ahead of the clueless zookeeper, who doesn't notice the fountain's new mermaid statue or the store mannequin with tusks or the stage dancer with flippers and a tail instead of feet. Savage's stylish digitally created illustrations feature clean shapes, strong lines, and solid blocks of color. The graphically appealing scenes are easy to read, allowing even the youngest viewers an opportunity to interpret the action. The silly search comes to an end at a diving competition, and when the gold-medal winner's swim cap comes off, the poor zookeeper finally gets a clue...and an idea for how to keep the walrus happy and boost zoo attendance. The satisfyingly circular ending gives Where's Walrus? a flipper up on that guy in the striped shirt. kitty Flynn

Spinster Goose

Kirkus Review starred (February 15, 2011) Delectably satiric nursery rhymes play with naughtiness and punishment. Mother Goose sends disobedient children (some human, some half-animal) to her sister Spinster Goose's reform school, where "The pinchers get pinched, / and the pokers get poked. / The biters get bit, / and the smokers get smoked." Crimes range from eating chalk to stealing sweets and cheating. Some consequences arise naturally (gum-chewer's gum explodes on her face), while others come at Spinster's strict hand: Baa Baa Black Sheep swears, so Spinster "hires shearers from the north, / hygenists [sic] from the south. / They promptly shear his BLEATING wool, / then wash his BLEATING mouth!" Real violence remains mostly at rumor level as threats-an electric chair and stretching rack are shown but not used. Lard-boiled beans prove that "Life is Gruel"; deliberately filthy Polly Flinders refuses to shower because "this punk is into Grunge." Badness was never more enjoyable than Wheeler's wicked rewrites: "Friday's child stole seventeen lunches. / Saturday's child threw seventeen punches. / But the child who got a Sunday detention / did something too naughty for me to mention." Blackall's watercolor-and-ink illustrations are fascinatingly delicate in line and color as they convey all the funny, delicious ghastliness of necks bending in woe, cheeks paling in nausea and this whole mob of unbiddable, hybrid Struwwelpeter/Gorey kids. (Picture book/poetry. 8 & up)

Madeline at the White House

Booklist (January 1, 2011 (Vol. 107, No. 9)) Preschool-Grade 1. First Daughter Candle (whose unruly mop curls up like a flame) is feeling ignored by her busy parents, so Mom arranges for an Easter weekend visit from Madeline and her friends. The girls enjoy rolling eggs, overeating, and sleepover activities, capped off by a magical ride on cherry blossoms to view D.C. landmarks, courtesy of a magician first seen in Madeline’s Christmas (1985), now transformed into a rabbit. Based on an idea Bemelmans was working on at the time of his 1962 death, grandson Marciano has done a credible job copying the rhythms and artistic style of the originals.