K-Gr 3--Cosby turns his hand to writing, telling stories about situations that children often face. In The Best Way to Play, Little Bill, the narrator, and his friends get caught up in the excitement and marketing of their favorite TV cartoon, Space Explorers, and desperately want their parents to buy them the expensive video game. They become bored with it quickly, however, and realize that it's more fun to play Space Explorers outside. In The Meanest Thing to Say, Little Bill comes face to face with a bully. The Treasure Hunt takes him on a voyage of self-exploration. It seems to him that everyone in his family has a special quality. After a full day of searching, he discovers that his is "telling stories and making people laugh." These titles feature short chapters, making them appropriate for beginning readers--but they're also short enough to be read aloud. Honeywood's illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and show Little Bill and his friends and family as having distinctive personalities and characteristics. Each book comes with a letter to parents from a child psychiatrist about the subject matter in that book. While the writing is nothing extraordinary, Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to easy-reader collections.--Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY
In the new Little Bill series for beginning readers, Little Bill figures that his father has a prized collection of jazz LPs, his brother has a stack of classic baseball cards, and his mother owns a silver serving platterso what does he have that's special? Enter his great-grandmother Alice, who hears his complaint, asks for a story, and laughs at the silly episode he concocts. Bill realizes that he has something special after allan ability to tell stories. Emerging readers will skip past Professor Alvin Poussaint's opening letter to parents but won't be able to dodge the bluntly delivered lesson in this three- chapter esteem-builder. Honeywood's brightly colored domestic scenes, painted in a flat, folksy style, add plenty of visual energy, and the pleasure each member of Little Bill's family takes in his or her special thing lightens the book's obvious didactic intent.