cover image The Big Something

The Big Something

Patricia Reilly Giff, illus. by Diane Palmisciano. Scholastic/Orchard, $6.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-24459-6

False assumptions underlie the comedy of this buoyant launch to Fiercely and Friends, a paper-over-board early chapter book series that’s right on target for recent picture-book graduates. Peering through a hole in the fence, Jim and Jilli see men building “a Big Red Something” next door. They decide that the woman in a pointy hat painting pictures of gumdrops and ice-cream cones on the structure is a witch creating “a Hansel and Gretel house,” and they fear for the safety of Jilli’s dog, Fiercely, when he gets into the neighboring yard. Using short, punchy sentences, Giff (the Kids of Polk Street School series) writes in the chipper voice of Jilli, whose mind hurtles amusingly from one thought to another. Searching for disguises to scare the “witch,” Jilli finds gummy bears stuck to the woodshed floor and dusts them off: “Gummy bears made you brave. They tasted good, too.” Palmisciano’s (Gifts from the Heart) oil pastels playfully reinforce the energy and puckish personalities of the kids and Fiercely in this promising series kickoff. Ages 5–8. Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)