Once upon a time at school, a brave little red pencil set out to write an exciting story with nouns and adverbs and other interesting things--but first she had to face the ravenous pencil sharpener, the Wolf 3000. - (Baker & Taylor)
Once upon a time, in pencil school, a brave little red pencil sets out to write an exciting story with nouns and adverbs and everything--but first she has to face the ravenous pencil sharpener, the Wolf 3000. - (Baker & Taylor)
In this frothy literary folly, parts of speech, pieces of punctuation, and elements of style are sliced and diced and reassembled along the familiar route Little Red Riding Hood took to visit her grandmother. This time around, Ms. 2 informs her class of pencils that they're writing a story, and Little Red sets off with her basket of 15 words. Along the way she cuts through a dense forest of description, interrupts the run-ons of Conjunction Glue, and verbs her way to Principal Granny's office, just in time to foil the electrical teeth of the Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener before rescuing the shorter-than-before principal and returning to class to tell her tale. Holub's circular story, more about the act of telling than the tale itself, finds enthusiastic interpretation in Sweet's vivid, colorful visual chaos. Words abound, forming the tight font of the narrative, filling in the handwritten word balloons, and decorating the remaining real estate of the school's walls, signs, cupboards, and bulletin boards. The resulting confusion makes for an easy, winning prompt for beginning writers to abandon their fears and take up pencils of their own. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Holub and Sweet, along with a cadre of pencils, pens, and erasers, team up to help young writers avoid pitfalls on their way to writing their own stories. Using every available inch of the book, including cover, endpapers, and title page, this energetic volume is full of fun and information. In Pencilvania School one day, Ms. 2 (looking very much like a Ticonderoga yellow pencil) sets out to teach her sharp students a thing or 2 about writing. The students, pencils all, are clad in defining eraser styles--birthday hat, basketball, stegosaurus, etc.--making it easy to find Little Red (and her pink eraser head) in the crowd. Little Red wants to write a story about bravery and sets off on her story path, trying to follow Ms. 2's directions ("1. Idea, characters, setting / 2. Trouble / 3. Even bigger trouble / 4. Fix the trouble"). Along the way, she encounters nouns and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, conjunctions, punctuation marks, and one terrifying electric pencil sharpener. Saving much-shortened Principal Granny from a grinding fate, Little Red finds her story of bravery and is ready to share her tale with the other students at storytime. With a plethora of punny speech bubbles, a variety of hand-lettering, and a joyful combination of watercolor, collage, and pencil lines, the book clearly reflects Sweet's delight in this project. Teachers and aspiring young writers will embrace this lively story. robin l. smit Copyright 2013 Horn Book Magazine.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Balanced gracefully on her point, Little Red is a courageous young pencil with a storytelling assignment from school. While the other young pencils choose to write about "Pencilvania" or themes based on their novelty erasers, Little Red decides to compose a heroic story. "Remember, it's OK to wander a little, but stick to your basic story path so you don't get lost," warns her teacher, Ms. 2. Holub (Zero the Hero) cleverly combines two elementary-school formulas—the fairy tale and the writing exercise—as she shares the basics of storytelling and grammar. When Little Red activates her narrative with verbs, she "cartwheel right off the page and into... a deep, dark, descriptive forest" where words like "verdant" and "bosky" decorate leaves. Sweet (River of Words) illustrates in a flurry of colored pencil, watercolor, and collage. On yellowed, heavily doodled composition notepaper, she playfully mingles calligraphy, classroom settings, and images of Red defeating a sharp-toothed foe, the Wolf 3000 pencil sharpener. With style, humor, and solid writing advice, Holub and Sweet point out the latent creative potential within any desk drawer or supply cabinet. Ages 5–8. Author's agent: Liza Pulitzer Voges, Eden Street Literary. (Oct.)
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School Library Journal Reviews
K-Gr 2—Written with wit, humor, and puns galore, this fractured fairy tale features Little Red, a pencil in search of a story. Given a writing assignment by her teacher Ms. 2, Little Red travels down the story path with a basket of red nouns looking for the kind of tale that will allow her to display bravery and fight evil, "because red is the color of courage. But what would a brave pencil do?" As she journeys around the school, she encounters action words at the gym, descriptive words at the library, etc., until she comes across a long tangly tail that is up to no good. Brave Little Red follows it into Principal Granny's office where she comes upon the Wolf 3000, "the grumpiest, growliest, grindingest pencil sharpener ever made!" This is a book so rich in words and wry humor-written and visual-that one reading just isn't enough. Imagine kids running to the dictionary to look up "bosky" and "tenebrous" after getting bogged down in the dark, descriptive forest (the school library) or poring over Sweet's characteristically engaging watercolor, pencil, and collage illustrations for delicious details, such as the pencil school newspaper with the motto "We get to the point." These pictures don't merely enhance Holub's clever text, they become a part of it through the use of layered papers upon which the dialogue is literally written in pencil. Little Red's classmates run the gamut of childhood types, each distinguished by its individualized eraser. Creative and fun, this book works equally well for storytime or story writing. Pair it with Janet Stevens's The Little Red Pen (Houghton, 2011) for the full gamut of school-supplies silliness.—Teri Markson, Los Angeles Public Library
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