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*The Giant Strawberry* by Meiko S. Patton, illustrated by Kelly Grupczynski
The Giant Strawberry
by Meiko S. Patton, illustrated by Kelly Grupczynski
Ages 4-8 36 pages Xlibris February 2006 Hardcover    

Nina Kantabee is a well-mannered little girl who is always responsible and gets to enjoy the freedoms of childhood because of her good behavior. She lives in a farming community and likes to go to play after school with friends at their various houses. Her mother and father only specify that Nina return home before dark, and Nina has never yet failed to obey them.

One of the most famous farmers in the community is Mrs. Whitfield, known for her amazingly large fruits and vegetables. She is also a good friend of Nina’s. Nina always enjoys stopping by for an afternoon snack and chit-chat. Strawberries in particular are Mrs. Whitfield’s specialty. She has earned awards and interviews by reporters because of her strawberries.

On a particularly special day - the last day of school for the semester - Nina and her friends get caught up in their after-school play, and dusk comes sooner than expected. Nina’s promise to be home before dark is pushed to the limit, and she knows it will take a full-blown run all the way home to keep it. But in the middle of the road is a gigantic, oddly shaped mound. As Nina gets closer, she sees that it is a gigantic strawberry blocking the road - and the gate to Mrs. Whitfield’s house. There's no way she can go around it; where in the world did this strawberry come from? Nina knows her promise to her parents will be broken this night, but the bigger issue looming before her is how she's even going to get home at all.

The Giant Strawberry is a fun idea that culminates in a cute ending, although the book as a whole does not command real interest. The writing style and storyline are pretty bland, making reliance on the illustrations even more necessary to keep the reader's interest. Together author and illustrator have created a book that may elicit a few giggles and smiles from readers, which on any critic’s personal book passing-qualifications list is good for the encouragement of young readers to continue picking up books and giving them a try.

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  Sonia R. Polinsky/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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