Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth has gotten three starred reviews so far!


Written by Sarah Weeks
Illustrated by Robert Neubecker
(Beach Lane Books; ISBN 9781416986867; November 2009; Fall catalog pg. 271)

Straight shooter Sophie Peterman gives readers the lowdown on babies: They are your “worst nightmare.” With a cocked eyebrow and a clear, authoritative voice she lists reasons why you can’t trust a baby. They leak, they smell, they swallow (and eventually return!) your favorite marble, they rummage in your drawers and they devour your hidden Halloween candy. While not the first book about a disgruntled older child and the arrival of a cooing, burping bundle, this effort finds success through Sophie’s fresh voice. Never whiny or petulant, she deftly delivers deadpan observations that evoke smiles. Neubecker’s vivid artwork pops as he uses his bright palette and unique perspectives to create facial expressions that perfectly capture Sophie’s annoyance, her mother’s frustration and the baby’s clear-eyed joy. Oversize, all-caps, hand-lettered portions of narration add emphasis and allow Sophie’s voice and the artwork to seamlessly merge. When Sophie finally warns that you can go from hating baby to liking baby, she offers truly touching anecdotes that make her transition believable: Upon hearing a tiny voice call out, “Soapy!” to her, she just melted. Readers will too.
(Picture book. 4-8)

Publisher's Weekly, starred review;

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth! Sarah Weeks, illus. by Robert Neubecker. S&S/Beach Lane, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4169-8686-7

In a rant worthy of talk radio, young Sophie warns readers of the horrors of siblinghood: “Babies are not sweet. Babies are not precious. Babies are not cute. Babies are... your worst nightmare!” If readers need further proof of Sophie's claims, Neubecker (Wow! School!), wonderfully in his element, offers a portrait of infant-as-alien worthy of the Weekly World News (in addition to aliens, Sophie also compares babies to pirates and monsters). Truth (actually) be told, all of Sophie's complaints are familiar to the genre: babies are smelly crybabies, attention hoggers and violators of personal space and property. But Weeks (Catfish Kate and the Sweet Swamp Band) makes the material fresh: her heroine has an indelible personality and a voice that spills off the page, aided by comic typography (“If you have to sit next to a monster all the way to your aunt and uncle's house in Syracuse, New York, do not breathe in through your nose”). Fully owning her wounded rage, Sophie seethes with precocious certitude as she marshals evidence (she's big on lists) and wields rhetorical flourishes—the text is a gift to anyone reading aloud. Ages 4–8. (Nov.)

From School Library Journal, starred review;

PreS-Gr 2–In no uncertain terms, a girl warns readers about the perils of a new sibling. Looking like an alien at first, and the object of unwarranted praise and attention, a baby is prone to all manner of gross behaviors. Sophie reveals that the situation doesn’t get better as the infant grows into a toddler (known as a “monster”): stealing Halloween candy, swallowing lucky marbles, and exhibiting general uninhibited behavior. She softens, though, when the monster begins to focus affection on her but leaves readers with a warning not to reveal this softness to parents lest they repeat the experience. Weeks has created a feisty, forthright protagonist who lays out the pros and cons of a new brother with delightful tongue-in-cheek detail. The ink and digitally colored illustrations and boldface words in the text perfectly catch the narrative nuances and enhance it with cheeky perspectives and funny touches. Older siblings will laugh at the younger child’s antics and parents will chortle at Sophie’s reactions and perspective in all her righteous truth telling.–Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI

 Well, my goodness....