Friday, September 19, 2014

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great

Booklist starred (May 1, 2013 (Vol. 109, No. 17))
Preschool-Grade 2. Goat feels upstaged by Unicorn, who seems to do everything better than he does. (Goat can almost prepare marshmallow squares; Unicorn can make it rain cupcakes.) But everything changes when Unicorn discovers Goat’s special gifts: goat cheese! cloven hooves! (“What is up with those hooves?” Unicorn asks. “Those things are out of control.”) Now it’s Unicorn’s turn to be deflated, even kicking rainbows out of the way, until a terrific idea is born. Together, they will be unstoppable. Goat and Unicorn are simply shaped cartoonlike figures with colored bodies and faces that are highly expressive, though executed with a minimum of lines. When Unicorn is front and center, the pages are full of soft, bright rainbow colors with stars and lots of golden images. Goat is pictured less energetically, and his color is fittingly blue. But as things brighten for him, so does his bright orange background. Then, as friends, the duo are surrounded by a circle of gold. Shea’s cleverly written tale makes this a standout, but there’s substance here, too. The grass may always seem greener, but the message comes across that everybody has special strengths, and togetherness can often maximize them. This tale of discovered friendship will delight unicorn fans and perhaps create new fans for goats.

Otis Dooda Downright Dangerous

School Library Journal (June 1, 2014)
Gr 3-5-Potter and Heatley pair up again for the second installment in the series. As in the first book, Otis Dooda, Strange but True (Feiwel & Friends, 2013), there is enough slapstick humor to keep even the most reluctant readers engaged. Otis begins third grade as the new kid in school, and as his brother, Gunther, predicted, the only person who sat next to Otis was the kid who "digs in the treasure box." That kid also happens to be the most annoying kid on the planet-Boris, who lives on the fourth floor of Otis's apartment building. As Otis navigates his new school, zaniness ensues. He annoys Potted-Plant Boy again, who then places a curse on him. Later, Otis and his best friend Perry try out belly button poppers and bubble blasters for Perry's dad, with a range of crazy results. Otis loves LEGOsr and believes himself to be the greatest block-building genius who ever lived. Enter arch nemesis, Sid Frackas. There is nothing Sid won't do to keep Otis from entering the LEGOr contest. Fans of "Captain Underpants"(Scholastic) and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (Abrams/Amulet) will enjoy the graphic novel format of this series. With black-and-white line drawings, large font, and gross bathroom humor, reluctant readers will gravitate toward Otis Dooda.-Annette Herbert, F. E. Smith Elementary School, Cortland, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

My Teacher is a Monster!

Booklist starred (April 1, 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 15))
Preschool-Grade 2. Bobby’s teacher, Ms. Kirby, is a roaring, teeth-gnashing, galumphing giant green monster. Really! (And it has nothing to do with her reaction to that paper airplane Bobby threw.) When Bobby goes to the park to blow off some steam, something terrible happens: he runs into his ghastly teacher. Ms. Kirby isn’t happy to see Bobby, either, but after some awkwardness, they start a friendly—if formal—conversation. When a sudden gust of wind blows Ms. Kirby’s favorite hat away, Bobby’s the one who catches it before it flies into the pond. Soon Ms. Kirby and Bobby are showing each other their favorite places in the park, and all the while, Ms. Kirby looks less like a grumpy monster and more like a friendly young teacher in a big hat. Brown (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, 2013) shapes his cartoony characters with blocky patches of bright colors, and at the heart of the awkward-pause-filled humor are Bobby and Ms. Kirby’s marvelous facial expressions: Bobby, with an impressive cowlick, has a constant look of shocked disbelief, while Ms. Kirby wears a deadpan grimace of resignation. That is, until they each learn there’s more to the other than just a misbehaving student or grouchy teacher. This playful, eye-catching story goes a long way to humanize both teachers and students. Ed: kill the period after Not in the imprint title.

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Hot-Air Baboons

School Library Journal (August 1, 2014)
Gr 1-3-Ace and Bub are enjoying their snowy spring break on the slopes when a band of sneaky baboons set up a gigantic hair dryer to melt the snow into water for swimming pools. The brothers don't trust the baboons' intentions and investigate to uncover their double dealing plans. Another wacky and charming addition to the series. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Dog vs. Cat

Booklist (July 2014 (Vol. 110, No. 21))
Grades K-2. When Mr. Button brings home a dog, and Mrs. Button brings home a cat, the two very different pets have to learn to share a room together. In a cute spin on a dorm-room situation, the two greet each other cordially, but soon their idiosyncrasies begin to grate on each other. Cat has no interest in chasing tails. Dog is not a fan of Cat’s indoor bathroom habits. And what’s up with Dog sniffing everything and Cat clawing everything? Gall has a field day with his comic colored-pencil art, offering so much to laugh at that it’s hard to keep up: Dog’s frat-house sloppiness, Cat’s rack of identical jackets, Dog’s iBone device, and more. After a phase of sabotage (Cat hacking hairballs into Dog’s bowl, etc.), the two rejoin forces when a third character arrives, louder and stinkier than either of them: a baby. This final plot swerve feels a touch extraneous, but that doesn’t take away from the giggly joy anyone will get from these odd bedfellows. A second round would be welcome.

Detective Blue

Horn Book (September/October, 2011)
Little Boy Blue is all grown up and trying to keep a handle on crime in storytown. He tracks down the Dish and the Spoon, nabs Mary's little lamb -- but where is Miss Muffet? Takeoffs on Mother Goose and other folk literature have been thick on the ground since The Stinky Cheese Man (rev. 11/92); this one stands out for its sheer relentlessness, as one iconic character after another advises and distracts Detective Blue in his quest to find the missing Miss: "FORGET the plum, Horner! Just give me the FACTS!" The Three Blind Mice, sitting on a park bench, are not helpful, either: "Who just ran by?" "I didn't see anyone." "Maybe it was the farmer's wife." Comic-strip panels illustrate Blue's determined investigation, with Arnold's goggle-eyed characters alert to the quest and the humor. The story saves its best joke for the end, which we won't give away here except to ask, Do you know Miss Muffet's first name? roger sutton

Comics Squad Recess!

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 1, 2014)

An all-star comics anthology tackles everyone's favorite subject: recess. Comics veterans and masters celebrate recess with favorite characters from Babymouse to Lunch Lady as well as stories from such acclaimed creators as Printz winner Gene Luen Yang and Eisner winner Raina Telgemeier. In Yang's ebullient "The Super-Secret Ninja Club," nerdy Daryl turns the tables on his friends when he immerses himself in the way of the ninja. In Eric Wight's imaginative "Freeze Tag," a lovable cupcake named Jiminy Sprinkles takes on the Mean Green Gang (consisting of a cucumber, broccoli, a green bean, a green pepper and their leader, a brussels sprout) for a game of freeze tag aided by some superpowers and a peppermint candy. Captain Underpants' creator Dav Pilkey amuses with his "Book 'Em, Dog Man," a story within a story about an evil cat determined to dumb down the world by destroying all books. Fans of Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series will delight in seeing Betty as the star of her own story, in which she must take down a perilous pizza monster. Anthologies can sometimes suffer from unevenness, when some pieces seem to be more filler than substance; this lively, upbeat and all-around-awesome offering is consistently convivial and laugh-out-loud funny from cover to cover. More fun than the playground at recess! (Graphic anthology. 7-12)


School Library Journal (March 1, 2014)
Gr 2-5-How do we stay put on our planet and not float away into outer space? What makes things fall to the ground from high places? Chin introduces youngsters to the concept of gravity, presenting the information in highly understandable language and in captivating paintings that will delight young readers. Deceptively simple large print text describe how gravity affects all things on Earth as well as in outer space. Colorful and incredibly detailed watercolor landscapes and close-up illustrations keep readers' attention, and certain objects are repeated throughout the pages. Although Gravity is set up like a fictional text, the information necessary to understand the basics of gravity are present. This is a wonderful addition to libraries for younger students. In the "More About Gravity" section, readers can add to their increasing knowledge of the topic with important vocabulary and comparisons that allow for deeper understanding.-Katy Charles, Virgil Elementary School, Cortland, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Colors versus Shapes

School Library Journal (July 1, 2014)

K-Gr 2-Two teams vie for a starring role in the book. One of the judges, a bespectacled alligator asks, "Why should this book be about you?" The smiling, raisin-shaped daubs of color begin their audition, but the team of black-and-white shapes interrupts. Waving their gloved hands and running around the stage, members of the opposing teams banter back and forth in a series of dialogue bubbles. The contestants all begin to show off, mixing it up to create new and unusual colors (turquioise, maroon, and amber) and shapes (rhombus, hexagon, and irregular polygons), until chaos reigns. Finally, there is a splattering collision resulting in a bright red octagon, and the teams come to the conclusion that cooperation is the answer. Together, the contestants create a bright and sunny landscape filled with buildings and vehicles constructed of squares, circles, and triangles. Their efforts duly impress the judges. The action is set against plenty of white space, and the names of the colors are printed in corresponding shades. Boldt's new title follows his equally engaging 123 Versus ABC (HarperCollins, 2013) and offers an amusing lesson on competition and cooperation as well.-Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.