Review by New York Times Review
SCIENCE FAIR A Story of Mystery, Danger, International Suspense, and a Very Nervous Frog. By Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Disney Editions. $18.99. (Ages 10 and up) Mean rich kids, heavies from the Republic of Krpshtskan and a "Star Wars" memorabilia collector in a Darth Vader mask are some of the bad guys in Pearson and Barry's hilarious new novel. Toby Harbinger has to win the $5,000 first prize at the Hubble Middle School science fair to make Darth Vader go away, but much more is at stake: a plot to steal top-secret technology, unwittingly aided by hypercompetitive parents. Somehow it all makes sense. ABSOLUTELY WILD By Dennis Webster. Illustrated by Kim Webster Cunningham. David R. Godine. $17.95. (Ages 5 and up) A father-daughter team assembles a menagerie, wild and garden-variety. Cunningham's hand-colored linoleum prints complement the jaunty poems ("The snail's a funny little fellow/Whose body seems to run on Jell-o./He slips and slides along the ground /And never makes the slightest sound"). The text is simple enough that the book could double as an early reader, and lines about the yak's "hairy top and hairy bottom" should go over big. LET IT BEGIN HERE! April 19, 1775: The Day the American Revolution Began. Written and illustrated by Don Brown. Roaring Brook. $17.95. (Ages 6 to 10) "One of the most famous days in American history" comes to life in this account. Using a blunt, expressive style - except for redcoats and splashes of blood, the watercolors are mostly in shades of brown - the author conveys the human scale of the revolution that began in a field in Lexington (some images make the age guidance of 6 seem on the young side). The book's sourcing could be more informative, but as history lessons go, this one is fast-paced and accessible. THE PENCIL By Allan Ahlberg. Illustrated by Bruce Ingman. Candlewick. $16.99. (Ages 4 to 8) A creative cousin of Harold's purple crayon, Ahlberg and Ingman's "lonely little pencil" busily draws a dog, a cat, a family, a paintbrush (which brings color into the story), a boiled egg named Billy and other characters who insist on taking over their own story and rudely ordering up revisions. ("'Get rid of these ridiculous sneakers!' yelled Elsie.") Finally the pencil is forced to come up with the only possible solution: an eraser or two. EON Dragoneye Reborn. By Alison Goodman. Viking. $19.99. (Ages 12 and up) The odds are stacked almost too heavily against Eon, a girl masquerading as a 12-year-old boy - a would-be "dragoneye apprentice" to one of the "12 energy dragons of good fortune" (Goodman's fantasy world is based on East Asian astrology). But this novel includes plenty of exciting sword fights and plot reversals, and the dragons themselves, which only mystics of Eon's ability can see, are beautifully described. Eon's rise and fall take an unpredictable course, and a surprise awaits at the end, setting up Book 2. HATE THAT CAT By Sharon Creech. Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins. $15.99. (Ages 8 to 12) Creech's new novel - a companion to "Love That Dog" - once again uses poetry to talk about poetry in the voice of a boy named Jack. In his one-sided exchange with his teacher, Miss Stretchberry (we get traces of her presence: "O.K. O.K., O.K. / I will learn how to spell alliteration"), he argues, cajoles and remembers, and arrives at an understanding of what words are for. Along the way we learn about his favorite writers (oddly, repeating some verses from the previous book) and why William Carlos Williams, "the wheelbarrow guy," still sounds new. JULIE JUST
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [October 27, 2009]
Review by Booklist Review
In a worthy companion piece to Love That Dog (2001), Creech employs observant sensitivity and spare verse to carve an indelible portrait of a boy who discovers the power of self-expression. Once again, Jack works on a poetry journal for Miss Stretchberry, now his fifth-grade teacher. He responds to her instruction with skepticism, all the while absorbing the depth of feeling in the poems she shares, sometimes in spite of himself. Creech is a master of negative space; though we see only Jack's side of their dialogue, we learn a great deal about the other figures in Jack's life. In Love That Dog, Jack's reluctant relationship with poetry mirrored his struggle to let go of a good friend. In this title, we see Jack's reluctance waning, and with it, the resolute protection of his feelings. Try as he might to hold them off, the lines of Miss Stretchberry's poems open a space in his heart just big enough to allow affection for a small black kitten, dotted with white, to find its way in.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2008 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-8-In this worthy sequel to Love That Dog (HarperCollins, 2001), Jack is once again in Miss Stretchberry's class, developing his poetry composition skills and learning from the masters. His Uncle Bill disparages the free-verse form and mundane subjects, stressing the importance of metaphor, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and LARGE moments. But Jack works his way into these concepts by means of Miss S's introduction to the work of Edgar Allan Poe, T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Valerie Worth, and Walter Dean and Chris Myers, and her constant encouragement of his own attempts. Jack, still healing from the loss of his dog, resists getting a new pet and despises an aloof neighborhood black cat with which he has an unpleasant run-in. He also grapples with putting into words his feelings about his mother, who is deaf, a fact that is slowly and deftly revealed in his poems. When the Christmas-present kitten he has learned to love disappears, Jack grieves anew, until the despised black cat saves the day. Once again, all of the poems are addressed to Miss Stretchberry, and Jack's growing excitement as he discovers the delights of sound ("Tintinnabulation!") and expression is palpable. He also learns the poetry of silence as he and his mother communicate through sign language and tender gestures. The relevant poems are included at the end of the book, along with a hefty bibliography of "Books on the Class Poetry Shelf." Readers will be touched and inspired once more.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
(Intermediate) In this follow-up to Love That Dog (rev. 11/01), narrator Jack has moved up a grade in school but has the same inordinately understanding teacher. Jack continues to address Miss Stretchberry in free verse in which he explores what makes a real poem and struggles with the more rigid definition his uncle Bill uses: "a poem has to rhyme / and have regular meter / and SYMBOLS and METAPHORS / and onomoto-something and / alliter-something." As in the first book, Jack reacts to the poems he's reading and emulates them, modeling poetry after Poe and Tennyson and along the way learning about onomatopoeia and alliteration. He comes to appreciate cats and gets a kitten for Christmas, which a little too conveniently provides the dramatic tension in the book when it disappears. Jack also reveals gradually that his mother is deaf. Creech includes the poems that inspire Jack at the end, along with some of Jack's original poems from Love That Dog and an excellent list of children's poetry books. Though lacking the freshness of the first book, Hate That Cat extends Creech's attempt to make poetry something that children can appreciate as part of daily life, and teachers will love using it in the classroom. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Newbery Medalist Creech continues the story of budding poet Jack in this sequel that, as is often the case with sequels, never quite captures the magic of the initial volume, 2001's Love That Dog. Jack is starting a new school year, moving up to the next grade along with his perceptive teacher, Miss Stretchberry. As in its predecessor, Jack's poems respond to well-known works studied in class and to Miss Stretchberry's insightful comments. She encourages Jack to stretch in his writing and to continue to examine buried feelings about his dog and, this year, about his mother as well. The titular cat that Jack dislikes is a mean neighborhood cat, but he changes his mind about felines when he gets a kitten as a Christmas present. The growth in Jack's writing is evident as the year progresses, and he learns more about the elements of poetry (though some of his poems and responses veer off a little too far into Englishmajorland). Teachers will welcome both Jack's poems and Creech's embedded writing lessons. (appendix, bibliography) (Fiction/poetry. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.