Reviews for Little Red Pen

Booklist Reviews 2011 March #1
In their latest farcical outing, a spin on the classic folktale "The Little Red Hen," the Stevens sisters tap into kids' inherent curiosity about the after-hours classroom. "Let's get to work!" announces bossy Little Red Pen, poised to correct stacks of homework. All of the supplies cowering in the desk drawer have excuses: Stapler's back hurts from all the pounding; Pencil's worn down to a nub. Taking charge on her own, Little Red Pen works through the night until, in staggering exhaustion, she rolls off the desk and into the trash can, "The Pit of No Return." Who can save her? Her duty-shirking friends, who come up with a brilliant scheme that even ropes in Tank, the notoriously lazy classroom hamster. The story loses momentum during the long rescue process, but the steady supply of puns and zany in-jokes balances the clear messages about teamwork and will keep kids engaged, while both words and pictures create distinct, hilarious, highly animated characters from everyday objects. Pair this with Kate Banks' The Eraserheads (2010), another story about the secret life of school supplies. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
With a stack of papers to grade, Little Red Pen calls for help from her friends the stapler, scissors, eraser, etc.; their excuses quickly mount up. After Little Red falls into the trashcan, though, the lazy office supplies rescue her. This rollicking read-aloud, with humor-filled watercolors, includes enough plays on words to keep even the most jaded reader chortling. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #2
Poor Little Red Pen -- she always has to do everything herself. The stack of papers to grade threatens to overtake her, and she calls for help from her friends who are hiding in the desk drawer: the stapler, scissors, pencil, eraser, pushpin, and highlighter. The excuses mount up, and Little Red Pen knows she will have to do all the work herself. While laboring, she becomes exhausted and falls into the Pit of No Return -- the trashcan. The lazy office supplies come up with a Rube Goldberg contraption in order to rescue her, complete with rulers, paper clips, a hamster, and enough plays on words to keep even the most jaded reader chortling. Stevens's humor-filled watercolors are busy and active, especially since each character is a familiar object with its own personality, facial and body expressions, color, and even typeface. Particularly memorable are the stapler, with amazing teeth and tired eyes; the lime-green highlighter's bushy hair; and the sassy Latina pushpin, Senorita Chincheta. A rollicking read-aloud, this is a book that begs to be turned into a class play, readers' theater, or puppet show. robin l. smith Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 March #2
Obviously inspired by "The Little Red Hen," this goes beyond the foundation tale's basic moral about work ethic to explore problem solving, teamwork and doing one's best. Nighttime at school brings the Little Red Pen out of the drawer to correct papers, usually aided by other common school supplies. But not this time. Too afraid of being broken, worn out, dull, lost or, worst of all, put in the "Pit of No Return" (aka trash), they hide in the drawer despite the Little Red Pen's insistence that the world will end if the papers do not get corrected. But even with her drive she cannot do it all herself—her efforts send her to the Pit. It takes the ingenuity and cooperation of every desk supply to accomplish her rescue and to get all the papers graded, thereby saving the world. The authors work in lots of clever wordplay that will appeal to adult readers, as will the spicy character of Chincheta, the Mexican pushpin. Stevens' delightfully expressive desk supplies were created with paint, ink and plenty of real school supplies. Without a doubt, she has captured their true personalities: the buck-toothed stapler, bespectacled scissors and rather empty-headed eraser. Teachers will certainly find themselves wishing for their own arsenal of supplies to help them with their grading, and students may take a second glance at that innocuous-looking red pen on the teacher's desk. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 February #2

Initially echoing the plot of "The Little Red Hen," sisters and longtime collaborators Stevens and Crummel introduce a bespectacled, schoolmarmish red pen with a stack of papers to grade. Her desk-drawer friends, however, refuse to help, even when the Little Red Pen insists, "If these papers aren't graded, the students won't learn.... The sky might fall. It might be the end of the world!" When the pen, exhausted from grading, falls into the wastebasket--aka "The Pit of No Return"--her friends must rally to rescue her. Stevens's full-bleed illustrations caricature the office supplies in a style reminiscent of Sir John Tenniel, from a bucktoothed Stapler and fuzzy-haired Highlighter to a tiny pushpin, Señorita Chincheta, who makes up for her small size with her emphatic bilingual declarations. But while the story is often verbally clever, with many humorous individual scenes (Stapler's idea of correcting papers is stapling all over the offending paragraph), the convoluted plot and numerous speaking characters (six desk-drawer friends, plus a ruler, yardstick, paperclip box, and a lethargic hamster) make the story as a whole feel overlong and overdone. Ages 6-9. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 March

Gr 2-4--In a schoolroom take on this classic tale of cooperation, the teacher's tools pool their energies to solve a problem. The Little Red Pen has fallen into the trash, exhausted after working alone long into the night. The inhabitants of the desk drawer--stapler, pushpin, scissors, highlighter, eraser, pencil, paper clips--each have a lame reason for not helping the pen, but then they realize the error of their ways: if the papers don't get graded, it will be "the end of the world." The rescue isn't easy, but using a little ingenuity and a finally wide-awake classroom hamster, the world doesn't end, the papers get graded, and the friends vow their loyalty for the future. Stevens's enchanting, well-imagined, dimensional cartoon-style drawings of the office-supply characters imbue each one with a distinct personality to match their dialogic voices. That dialogue appears in character-specific fonts against fully illustrated backgrounds and gives the story a cinematic feel. Adults will need Jim Dale's range of voices for a memorable read-aloud, but the ubiquity of graphic novels and resurgence of comics for all age groups assures that young readers will have no trouble following the action. Extend a science lesson on pulleys and levers; stop and start the reading for a lesson on prediction; and pull out your six-traits writing workbooks so students can describe the characters or action. This book is recommended for any classroom and should find a home in most libraries.--Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC

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