Review: Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks

bird and squirrel on the run

Bird & Squirrel on the Run by James Burks

Bird and Squirrel don’t exactly get along.  Bird just wants to have a good time and never worries about a thing.  Squirrel is obsessive about gathering nuts for the winter and worries constantly.  But when Squirrel’s hoard of nuts is destroyed, the two of them realize they need one another to head south for the winter.  Unfortunately, the cat has a different idea and that is having both Squirrel and Bird for lunch!  This zany graphic novel is filled with twists and turns that will have even the most reluctant readers eagerly turning the pages.

Burks takes two polar-opposite characters and in a brief story manages to bring them together as friends in a very believable way.  Throughout the book, there is silly humor, plenty of puns, and a wonderful sense of camaraderie.  The pacing is particularly well done, with small places to catch your breath before the pursuit continues.  There are always surprises waiting for the characters and the reader too.  It makes the reading all the more fun to get caught up in the unexpected.

In my advanced reader copy, the art was only completed for the first few pages in full color.  From those pages, the colors are deep and bright.  The feeling is nicely autumnal and the bright colors add to the zing of the book.  The art has a classic cartoon feel that will have readers feeling right at home.

Perfect for young reluctant readers looking for graphic novels, this book will find an eager audience.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from ARC received from Scholastic.

Review: Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

rocket writes a story

Rocket Writes a Story by Tad Hills

This sequel to How Rocket Learned to Read has the same irresistible charm of the first.  While the first book inspired new readers on their way to proficiency, this book will inspire young writers to try their hand at the craft.  Rocket loved books like they were his friends.  He loved words too and used his nose to find new words to add to his collection.  Eventually, Rocket had so many words, he just had to do something with them.  So he decided to write his own story.  But when he was faced with the blank page, he couldn’t think of a thing to write.  The little yellow bird who was his teacher advised him to write about something that inspired him, that excited him.  Now Rocket just needs to find that perfect inspiration for a story.  It just might be much closer than he’d ever have expected.

Hills has taken the wonderful cheer of his original Rocket book and his Duck & Goose stories and transformed it into a book that will lead young authors through the thicket of writing their first story.  This is a shining example of a book that will inspire rather than lecture young artists as they strive to create.  Rocket has a wonderful combination of confidence and openness that makes him a great protagonist.  Children will be happy to learn to write a book alongside Rocket.

The art in the book is done in Hills’ signature style.  It is simple, bright colored, and joyful.  Hills plays with perspective, turns the idea of a classroom inside out, and rejoices in reading and writing. 

A must-have book for all public libraries, this will also find a welcome home in school libraries and classrooms.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.