Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Kung Pow Chicken Let's Get Cracking!

Kirkus Reviews starred (October 15, 2013)
Can Kung Pow Chicken and Egg Drop beat the bad guys and be home in time for dinner? Second-grade chicken Gordon Blue and his still partially egg-bound little brother Benedict are mild-mannered chicks until they fall into a vat of toxic sludge in their uncle Quack's lab. Suddenly, Gordon has birdy sense that tingles when danger is near. He can flap superfast, and his clucks are louder than any chicken's ("His bok [is] worse than his bite"). He promises to use his powers only for good (and to keep his room tidy). Since he's never met a bad guy, he has to do normal chicken things...until everyone starts losing their feathers at the Fowl Fall Festival in Fowladelphia. Could it be Granny Goosebumps' yucky glowing cookies? She's making money wing over fist selling itchy sweaters to all the naked chickens. Soon Kung Pow Chicken is "locked in a battle of knits" with the nefarious Granny and her knitting needles. When she escapes, can Kung Pow Chicken overcome his self-doubt and save the City of Featherly Love? First of four to be released over the course of the next year and part of Scholastic's Branches line of heavily illustrated easy chapter books, Marko's debut is a perfectly puntastic page-turner. Hybrids of comics and traditional pictures, the goofy all-color illustrations propel the fast-moving, high-interest story. "Ham and eggs!"--you don't want to miss this! (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 5-7)

The Hueys in It Wasn't Me

Booklist (January 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 9))
Preschool-Grade 1. The Hueys (first introduced in The Hueys in the New Sweater, 2012) are back—in a bigger format and with a new quandary. The opening endpapers show our round, resolute friends having a conversation about how to address a pesky fly (the conversation, in typical Jeffers fashion, happens in pictures, not words). The story continues with five differently colored Hueys enthusing about all manner of flying objects, but soon, out of nowhere, discord arrives and an argument ensues. Just when things are at their most out of control, Gillespie Huey asks what everyone is fighting about. No one knows, so they decide to go look at a dead fly, content and collegial once more. Jeffers is a master of this sort of wry humor, with his deeply expressive gestures; generous, empty backgrounds; and quirky charm. The explosion of the argument—and stillness of the solution—resonates on just the right frequency, distilling complex emotion into something manageable and entertaining. Kids will recognize themselves here, over and over again.

Urgency Emergency! Big Bad Wolf

Horn Book (January/February, 2014)
[star] Itsy Bitsy Spider [Urgency Emergency!] by Dosh Archer; illus. by the author Primary Whitman 48 pp. 9/13 978-0-8075-8358-6 $12.99 New readers are in for a treat with these British imports. Both are set in an emergency room where Doctor Glenda (a dog) and Nurse Percy (a rooster) ably and professionally assist the patients who arrive by ambulance from the pages of nursery rhymes and fairy tales. In Itsy Bitsy Spider, a brown kitty called Miss Muffet accompanies her injured spider friend, who had been hurt in an unfortunate waterspout accident and is in need of stitches. We see Doctor Glenda and Nurse Percy examine and treat the spider, much the way a human would be treated for a head wound, but with the comfort of a humorous situation. In Big Bad Wolf, the ambulance delivers a choking wolf, and the reader not only observes Nurse Percy overcome his fear of wolves but will also giggle through a most unusual Heimlich maneuver. Muted colors on a rich yellow background in a droll cartoon style keep the action light and to the point. Varying perspectives add to the fun, including one super-close-up of the wolf's enormous eyes and saliva-dripping teeth and another shot of Nurse Percy reacting to Grandma's feet sliding out of the wolf's mouth. A limited, easy-to-decode vocabulary in a large typeface will allow the emerging reader to confidently read and reread these delightful adventures. robin l. smith

How to Hide a Lion

Booklist (December 15, 2013 (Vol. 110, No. 8))
Preschool-Grade 2. Iris is a very little girl and a lion is a very large animal, but Iris cleverly manages to hide one in her house. After the lion runs away from angry townspeople—he’s in town to buy a hat—the gentle creature seeks refuge in Iris’ backyard. The girl sneaks him past her mom and dad and tries to make him as inconspicuous as possible; when her mom is brushing her teeth, for instance, the lion is hiding in the bathtub. Soon, of course, the jig is up, and the lion runs back into town, posing as a statue between two stone lions. From this vantage point, he has a clear view of robbers who break into the town hall and his “ROAR!” alerts police. The lion is declared a hero and presented with his most coveted item: a hat. Stephens’ mild-mannered lion, with his long nose and upturned mouth, makes for every child’s fantasy friend. Full of warmth and humor, this story of bravery and kindness—and the importance of dapper accessories—has the feel of a classic.

Go! Go! Go! Stop!

Horn Book (March/April, 2014)
Harper's quirky story stars two traffic lights and a fleet of construction vehicles, all of whom learn the importance of cooperation and teamwork. Little Green bounces ball-like into town, shouts the only word he knows -- "GO!" -- and wakes up some napping trucks. Bulldozer, Dump Truck, Mixer -- "soon everyone was…busy working on the new bridge." Little Green keeps on "GO, GO, GO"ing, and the hard-working trucks keep on truckin', but without a way to not go, things are soon out of control. Chaos threatens the bridge's construction and the vehicles' good humor. Harper's collagelike illustrations, incorporating photo snippets of dirt and rubble, are hard to resist. Construction enthusiasts, of course, will slow down to rubberneck at her simply rendered drawings of cheerful trucks in colorful cartoonlike scenes, but there's a well-built story here, too, giving this truck book broader appeal. Catastrophe is averted by a red "stranger," who rolls onto the site, assesses the situation, and yells, "STOP!" Still, it takes some hard work by everyone to strike the right balance between going and stopping; a special cameo by Little Yellow provides a nice keystone at the end. With its lively dialogue and action-packed pages, Go! Go! Go! Stop! will go over big at storytime. kitty flynn

Ferry Tail

Booklist (March 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 13))
Preschool-Grade 2. Walter loves his life as the resident dog aboard a ferry, where he befriends the travelers, barks at the seagulls, and helps the crew with their jobs. He does not love Cupcake, the captain’s pampered cat. One day, after Cupcake lands him in trouble, Walter disembarks onto the island. He enjoys exploring, but the people are unfriendly, and when a chilly fog rolls in, he can’t find the ferry. Walter feels miserable until Cupcake unexpectedly appears and leads him home. Children will relate to this lovable dog who always wants to help but is often turned away for reasons that don’t make sense to him. The story comes to life in Wong’s ink drawings, brightened with watercolor washes. Besides developing the settings with delicate precision, the illustrations portray Walter as a dog full of energy and personality. While appreciating the pun in the title is optional, many kids will enjoy this canine adventure story.