School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Ever the minimalist, Raschka continues to experiment with what is essential to express the daily joys and tribulations of humans and animals. This wordless story features Daisy, a dog. The motion lines framing her tail on the first page indicate that a big red ball is her chief source of delight. Ever-changing, curvy gray brushstrokes, assisted by washes of watercolor, define her body and mood. Blue and yellow surround her ecstatic prance to the park with toy and owner. The story's climax involves another dog joining the game, but chomping too hard, deflating the beloved ball. A purple cloud moves in, and eight squares fill a spread, each surrounding the protagonist with an atmosphere progressing from yellow to lavender to brown as the canine processes what has occurred; a Rothko retrospective could not be more moving. Until that point, the action has occurred within varying page designs, many showing Daisy's shifting sentiments in four vertical or horizontal panels. Her attentive human's legs are glimpsed frequently, a sunny child whose warmth is transferred in comforting full view at bedtime. When another day dawns, the frisky dog's person proffers a blue surprise; the exuberance at having a ball and a friend is barely containable across two pages. Raschka's genius lies in capturing the essence of situations that are deeply felt by children. They know how easy it is to cause an accident and will feel great relief at absorbing a way to repair damage.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-A gray-and-white pup and her red ball are constant companions until a poodle inadvertently deflates the toy, taking the air out of Daisy as well. Raschka's nuanced illustrations brilliantly depict joy, shock, disbelief, sadness-and, with the gift of a blue ball-renewed contentment. (Aug.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list This story about loss (and joy) is accomplished without a single word, which is perfect it puts you directly in the head space of its canine protagonist. The title tells us her name is Daisy, but she is a pretty anonymous little thing, drawn by Raschka as just a few indistinct yet somehow expressive squiggly lines. What's clear is that she loves playing with her ball, both indoors and out, until the fateful moment that another dog bites too hard on the ball and deflates it. In a heartaching series of nearly identical paintings, Daisy slumps into a sofa as depression overtakes her. Dogs, of course, don't know that there are more balls in the world, which makes her glee at the end of the book all the sweeter. Raschka uses fairly sophisticated comic-book arrangements long, narrow, horizontal panels, and so forth but masks them with soft watercolor edges instead of sharp corners. The result feels like something of pure emotion. Pretty close approximation of what it's like to be a dog, probably.--Kraus, Danie. Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly With quiet affection, this husband-and-wife team tells the story of a zookeeper whose devotion is repaid when he falls ill. On most days, the angular, elderly Amos rides the bus to the zoo, plays chess with the elephant ("who thought and thought before making a move"), sits quietly with the penguin, and spends time with his other animal friends. But when Amos catches a cold, the animals ride the bus to pay him a visit, each, in a charming turnabout, doing for Amos whatever he usually does for them. The elephant sets up the chessboard; the shy penguin sits on the bed, "keeping Amos's feet warm." Newcomer Erin Stead's elegant woodblock prints, breathtaking in their delicacy, contribute to the story's tranquility and draw subtle elements to viewers' attention: the grain of the woodblocks themselves, Amos's handsome peacock feather coverlet. Every face-Amos's as well as the animals'-brims with personality. Philip Stead's (Creamed Tuna Fish and Peas on Toast) narrative moves with deliberate speed, dreaming up a joyous life for the sort of man likely to be passed on the street without a thought. Ages 2-6. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal K-Gr 2-Amos McGee, an elderly man who works at the zoo, finds time each day for five special friends. With empathy and understanding he gives the elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl the attention they need. One morning, Amos wakes up with a bad cold and stays home in bed. His friends wait patiently and then leave the zoo to visit him. Their trip mirrors his daily bus ride to the zoo and spans three nearly wordless spreads. Amos, sitting up in bed, clasps his hands in delight when his friends arrive. The elephant plays chess with him, and the tortoise plays hide-and-seek. The penguin keeps Amos's feet warm, while the rhinoceros offers a handkerchief when Amos sneezes. They all share a pot of tea. Then the owl, knowing that Amos is afraid of the dark, reads a bedtime story as the other animals listen. They all sleep in Amos's room the rest of the night. The artwork in this quiet tale of good deeds rewarded uses woodblock-printing techniques, soft flat colors, and occasional bits of red. Illustrations are positioned on the white space to move the tale along and underscore the bonds of friendship and loyalty. Whether read individually or shared, this gentle story will resonate with youngsters.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list Zookeeper Amos McGee always makes time to visit his good friends at work: he plays chess with the elephant, runs races with the tortoise (who always wins), sits quietly with the penguin, lends a handkerchief to the rhinoceros (who has a runny nose), and reads stories to the owl (who is afraid of the dark). Then, after Amos gets a cold, his friends miss him, and they leave the zoo and ride the bus to his place to care for him and cheer him up. Like the story, the quiet pictures, rendered in pencil and woodblock color prints, are both tender and hilarious. Each scene captures the drama of Amos and the creatures caring for each other, whether the elephant is contemplating his chess moves, his huge behind perched on a stool; or the rhinoceros is lending Amos a handkerchief; or the owl is reading them all a bedtime story. The extension of the familiar pet-bonding theme will have great appeal, especially in the final images of the wild creatures snuggled up with Amos in his cozy home.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Book list *Starred Review* The intricate lion's face that crowds the cover of Pinkney's latest folktale adaptation is unaccompanied by any title or credits, and that is entirely appropriate there are no words inside, either. Through illustration alone Pinkney relates the well-known Aesop fable of the mouse who is captured by a lion, only to be unexpectedly released. Then, when the lion finds himself trapped by hunters, it is the mouse who rescues him by gnawing through the twine. Pinkney bends his no-word rule a bit with a few noises that are worked into the art ( Screeeech when an owl dives; Putt-Putt-Putt when the hunters' jeep arrives), but these transgressions will only encourage young listeners to get involved with read-along sessions. And involved they will be how could they not get drawn into watercolors of such detail and splendor? Pinkney's soft, multihued strokes make everything in the jungle seem alive, right down to the rocks, as he bleeds color to indicate movement, for instance, when the lion falls free from the net. His luxuriant use of close-ups humanizes his animal characters without idealizing them, and that's no mean feat. In a closing artist's note, Pinkney talks about his choice to forgo text.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist
Publishers Weekly Other than some squeaks, hoots and one enormous roar, Pinkney's (Little Red Riding Hood) interpretation of Aesop's fable is wordless-as is its striking cover, which features only a head-on portrait of the lion's face. Mottled, tawny illustrations show a mouse unwittingly taking refuge on a lion's back as it scurries away from an owl. The large beast grabs and then releases the tiny creature, who later frees the lion who has become tangled in a hunter's snare. Pinkney enriches this classic tale of friendship with another universal theme-family-affectingly illustrated in several scenes as well as in the back endpapers, which show the lion walking with his mate and cubs as the mouse and her brood ride on his back. Pinkney's artist's note explains that he set the book in Africa's Serengeti, "with its wide horizon and abundant wildlife so awesome yet fragile-not unlike the two sides of each of the heroes." Additional African species grace splendid panoramas that balance the many finely detailed, closeup images of the protagonists. Pinkney has no need for words; his art speaks eloquently for itself. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal PreS-Gr 3-This story starts on the cover with the glorious, golden countenance of a lion. No text is necessary to communicate the title: the direction of the beast's gaze and the conflicted expression on his tightly cropped face compel readers to turn the book over, where a mouse, almost filling the vertical space, glances back. The endpapers and artist's note place these creatures among the animal families of the African Serengeti. Each spread contributes something new in this nearly wordless narrative, including the title opening, on which the watchful rodent pauses, resting in one of the large footprints that marches across the gutter. In some scenes, Pinkney's luminous art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, suggests a natural harmony, as when the cool blues of the sky are mirrored in the rocks and acacia tree. In other compositions, a cream-colored background focuses attention on the exquisitely detailed and nuanced forms of the two main characters. Varied perspectives and the judicious use of panels create interest and indicate time. Sounds are used sparingly and purposefully-an owl's hoot to hint at offstage danger or an anguished roar to alert the mouse of the lion's entrapment. Contrast this version with Pinkney's traditional treatment of the same story (complete with moral) in Aesop's Fables (North-South, 2000). The ambiguity that results from the lack of words in this version allows for a slower, subtle, and ultimately more satisfying read. Moments of humor and affection complement the drama. A classic tale from a consummate artist.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list *Starred Review* A young girl is given a golden key to a house. In the house / burns a light. / In that light / rests a bed. On that bed / waits a book. And so continues this simple text, which describes sometimes fantastical pleasures as a bird from the book spirits the child through the starry sky to a wise-faced moon. The cumulative tale is a familiar picture-book conceit; the difference in success comes from the artwork. Here, the art is spectacular. Executed in scratchboard decorated in droplets of gold, Krommes' illustrations expand on Swanson's reassuring story (inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, This is the key of the kingdom ) to create a world as cozy inside the house as it is majestic outside. The two-page spread depicting rolling meadows beyond the home, dotted with trees, houses, barns, and road meeting the inky sky, is mesmerizing. The use of gold is especially effective, coloring the stars and a knowing moon, all surrounded with black-and-white halos. A beautiful piece of bookmaking that will delight both parents and children.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2008 Booklist
Publishers Weekly Using only a few graceful words per page to illuminate the dark, this bedtime gem shines its light clearly on things that matter--a home filled with books, art, music and ever-present love. Krommes's (The Lamp, the Ice, and a Boat Called Fish) astonishing illustrations are so closely intertwined with the meticulous text that neither can be isolated without a loss of meaning. The book begins, intriguingly, "Here is the key to the house./ In the house burns a light./ In that light rests a bed./ On that bed waits a book." That book takes the child reader up into the skies and back home again, to sleep ("dark in the song, song in the bird, / bird in the book, book on the bed"). Krommes's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are as delicate and elegant as snowflakes, and she uses a single color, a marigold, to bring warmth to both home and stars. This volume's artful simplicity, homely wisdom and quiet tone demonstrate the interconnected beauty and order of the world in a way that both children and adults will treasure. Ages 3-6. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Inspired by traditional cumulative poetry, Swanson weaves a soothing song that is as luminescent and soulful as the gorgeous illustrations that accompany her words. A journey both humble and epic begins with a key to a house. "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed-." In the bedroom of the house, a girl reads a book in which a bird "breathes a song-all about the starry dark." Swanson's poem then takes readers on a flight across the night sky to the realm of the moon and sun, then back along the path to the key that marked the beginning of the journey. Krommes's folk-style black-and-white etchings with touches of yellow-orange make the world of the poem an enchanted place. Patches of light and shadow give shape to the darkness, while smiling celestial bodies populate the potentially lonely night with their friendly warmth. This picture book will make a strong impression on listeners making their first acquaintance with literature. It is a masterpiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic that will be loved for generations to come.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Selznick's unique, visually arresting illustrated novel is transformed into an equally unique audiobook-plus-DVD presentation here. The story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret-orphan, clockmaker's apprentice, petty thief and aspiring magician-and how a curious machine connects him with his departed father and pioneering French filmmaker Georges Melies is full-bodied material for Woodman. The narrator dives in, reading with both a bright energy and an air of mystery-befitting the adventurous plot. Listeners will likely cotton to Woodman's affable tone and be fascinated by all the unusual elements here, including the sound-effects sequences (footsteps, train station noises) that stand in for Selznick's black-and-white illustrations, which appear like mini-silent movies in the book. Selznick himself takes over as host on the making-of style DVD, in which he divulges his love of film and his inspiration for the book, discusses (and demonstrates) his drawing technique and even performs a magic trick. The "chapters" of his interview are interspersed with excerpts from the audiobook, as he explains how the recording was a translation of both his words and pictures to sound. This inventive audio-visual hybrid will be a welcome addition to both home and classroom libraries. Ages 9-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Gr 3-6-Brian Selznick's atmospheric story (Scholastic, 2007) is set in Paris in 1931. Hugo Cabret is an orphan; his father, a clockmaker, has recently died in a fire and the boy lives with his alcoholic Uncle Claude, working as his apprentice clock keeper in a bustling train station. When Hugo's uncle fails to return after a three-day absence, the boy decides it's his chance to escape the man's harsh treatment. But Hugo has nowhere to go and, after wandering the city, returns to his uncle's rooms determined to fix a mechanical figure-an automaton-that his father was restoring when he died. Hugo is convinced it will "save his life"-the figure holds a pen, and the boy believes that if he can get it working again, it will deliver a message from his father. This is just the bare outline of this multilayered story, inspired by and with references to early (French) cinema and filmmaker George Melies, magic and magicians, and mechanical objects. Jeff Woodman's reading of the descriptive passages effectively sets the story's suspenseful tone. The book's many pages of pictorial narrative translate in the audio version into sound sequences that successfully employ the techniques of old radio plays (train whistles, footsteps reverberating through station passages, etc.). The accompanying DVD, hosted by Selznick and packed with information and images from the book, will enrich the listening experience.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Two-time Caldecott winner Wiesner (Tuesday; The Three Pigs) crafts another wordless mystery, this one set on an ordinary beach and under an enchanted sea. A saucerlike fish's eye stares from the exact center of the dust jacket, and the fish's scarlet skin provides a knockout background color. First-timers might not notice what's reflected in its eye, but return visitors will: it's a boxy camera, drifting underwater with a school of slim green fish. In the opening panels, Wiesner pictures another close-up eye, this one belonging to a blond boy viewing a crab through a magnifying glass. Visual devices binoculars and a microscope in a plastic bag rest on a nearby beach towel, suggesting the boy's optical curiosity. After being tossed by a wave, the studious boy finds a barnacle-covered apparatus on the sand (evocatively labeled the "Melville Underwater Camera"). He removes its roll of film and, when he gets the results, readers see another close-up of his wide-open, astonished eye: the photos depict bizarre undersea scenes (nautilus shells with cutout windows, walking starfish-islands, octopi in their living room ? la Tuesday's frogs). A lesser fantasist would end the story here, but Wiesner provides a further surprise that connects the curious boy with others like him. Masterfully altering the pace with panel sequences and full-bleed spreads, he fills every inch of the pages with intricate, imaginative watercolor details. New details swim into focus with every rereading of this immensely satisfying excursion. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Book list PreS-Gr. 2. As in his Caldecott Medal Book Tuesday 0 (1991), Wiesner offers another exceptional, wordless picture book that finds wild magic in quiet, everyday settings. At the seaside, a boy holds a magnifying glass up to a flailing hermit crab; binoculars and a microscope lay nearby. The array of lenses signals the shifting viewpoints to come, and in the following panels, the boy discovers an old-fashioned camera, film intact. A trip to the photo store produces astonishing pictures: an octopus in an armchair holding story hour in a deep-sea parlor; tiny, green alien tourists peering at sea horses. There are portraits of children around the world and through the ages, each child holding another child's photo. After snapping his own image, the boy returns the camera to the sea, where it's carried on a journey to another child. Children may initially puzzle, along with the boy, over the mechanics of the camera and the connections between the photographed portraits. When closely observed, however, the masterful watercolors and ingeniously layered perspectives create a clear narrative, and viewers will eagerly fill in the story's wordless spaces with their own imagined story lines. Like Chris Van Allsburg's books and Wiesner's previous works, this visual wonder invites us to rethink how and what we see, out in the world and in our mind's eye. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2006 Booklist
School Library Journal K-Gr 4-A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. It's a "Melville underwater camera," and the excited boy quickly develops the film he finds inside. The photos are amazing: a windup fish, with intricate gears and screwed-on panels, appears in a school with its living counterparts; a fully inflated puffer, outfitted as a hot-air balloon, sails above the water; miniature green aliens kowtow to dour-faced sea horses; and more. The last print depicts a girl, holding a photo of a boy, and so on. As the images become smaller, the protagonist views them through his magnifying glass and then his microscope. The chain of children continues back through time, ending with a sepia image of a turn-of-the-20th-century boy waving from a beach. After photographing himself holding the print, the youngster tosses the camera back into the ocean, where it makes its way to its next recipient. This wordless book's vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy. Shifting perspectives, from close-ups to landscape views, and a layout incorporating broad spreads and boxed sequences, add drama and motion to the storytelling and echo the photographic theme. Filled with inventive details and delightful twists, each snapshot is a tale waiting to be told. Pair this visual adventure with Wiesner's other works, Chris Van Allsburg's titles, or Barbara Lehman's The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-The window in Nanna and Poppy's kitchen is no ordinary window-it is the place where love and magic happens. It's where the girl and her doting grandparents watch stars, play games, and, most importantly, say hello and goodbye. The first-person text is both simple and sophisticated, conjuring a perfectly child-centered world. Sentences such as "When I get tired I come in and take my nap and nothing happens until I get up" typify the girl's happy, imaginative world. While the language is bouncy and fun, it is the visual interpretation of this sweet story that sings. Using a bright rainbow palette of saturated color, Raschka's impressionistic, mixed-media illustrations portray a loving, mixed-race family. The artwork is at once lively and energetic, without crowding the story or the words on the page; the simple lines and squiggles of color suggest a child's own drawings, but this is the art of a masterful hand. Perfect for lap-sharing, this book will find favor with children and adults alike.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Hillsboro, OR Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth) crafts a cozy portrait of a grandchild and her grandparents in this endearing book, illustrated in paintbox colors by Raschka (Be Boy Buzz). A curly haired girl-who dances with wiggly energy in Raschka's lush paintings-describes playful visits to her Nanna and Poppy, whose kitchen window provides the perfect venue to say hello and goodbye. "You can climb up on the flower barrel and tap," she says, "then duck down and they won't know who did it." Her grandparents welcome her into a sunlit, spacious kitchen filled with plants, where she doodles and listens to Poppy play "Oh, Susannah" on the harmonica. At night, the "Hello, Goodbye Window" functions as a mirror, and the girl jokes about being outside looking in: "Poppy says, `What are you doing out there? You come right in and have your dinner.' And I say, `But I'm here with you, Poppy,' and then he looks at me in his funny way." Juster departs from the over-the-top punning of his earlier works to create a gently humorous account of a family's conversations and games, all centered on the special window. Raschka warms the pages with glowing yellow, emerald, sapphire and golden brown, and he pictures the garden and trees in emphatic midsummer greens. The characters smile at one another with a doting twinkle in their eyes, and grandparents especially will be charmed by this relaxed account of how a child's visit occasions everyday magic. Ages 2-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Book list PreS-Gr. 2. Two well-known names come together in a book that speaks to the real lives of children and their experiences. The young narrator visits her grandparents, Nanna and Poppy, in their big house. They explore Nanna's garden, and Poppy plays his harmonica. The narrator rides her bike and takes a nap, and nothing happens till I get up. Looking out the picture window, the hello, goodbye window, she sees the pizza guy, and, more fancifully, a dinosaur. She also spots her parents coming to pick her up. The curly-haired girl is happy to see them, but sad because it means the end of the visit. The window imagery is less important than the title would make it seem. More intrinsic is Juster's honest portrayal of a child's perceptions (a striped cat in the yard is a tiger) and emotions (being happy and sad at the same time just happens that way sometimes ). Raschka's swirling lines, swaths, and dabs of fruity colors seem especially vibrant, particularly in the double-page spreads, which have ample room to capture both the tender moments between members of the interracial family and the exuberance of spending time in the pulsating outdoors, all flowers, grass, and sky. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2005 Booklist
Book list PreS. Henkes creates another winner in this simple, charming story about a naive little kitten who mistakes a round, shining moon for a bowl of milk.itten laps at the sky's creamy circle, but she is surprised when she tastes bugs instead of milk. Then she chases the milk-bowl moon through the garden and field to the pond, where she climbs a tree, discovers another milk bowl shining in the water, and dives in after it. Finally, wet and sad and tired and hungry, she returns home to find, at last, a true bowl of milk, out of the sky and on the porch, waiting for her. Henkes' text, reminiscent of Margaret Wise Brown's work in the elemental words, rhythms, and appealing sounds, tells a warm, humorous story that's beautifully extended in his shimmering, gray-toned artwork. Working in bold black lines and the silvery palette of moonlight, he creates a lovable, expressive character in the determined kitten, and his dramatic contrasts of light and dark capture the excitement of a nighttime adventure. Wise preschoolers may chuckle at the kitten's folly, but they'll also recognize the mysterious power of moonlight to transform the familiar world of daytime into something altogether new. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2004 Booklist
School Library Journal PreS-K-An irresistible offering from the multifaceted Henkes. The spare and suspense-filled story concerns a kitten that mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. When she opens her mouth to lick the treat, she ends up with a bug on her tongue. Next, she launches herself into the air, paws reaching out for the object of her desire, only to tumble down the stairs, "bumping her nose and banging her ear and pinching her tail. Poor Kitten." Again and again, the feline's persistent attempts to reach her goal lead to pain, frustration, and exhaustion. Repetitive phrases introduce each sequence of desire, action, and consequence, until the animal's instincts lead her home to a satisfying resolution. Done in a charcoal and cream-colored palette, the understated illustrations feature thick black outlines, pleasing curves, and swiftly changing expressions that are full of nuance. The rhythmic text and delightful artwork ensure storytime success. Kids will surely applaud this cat's irrepressible spirit. Pair this tale with Frank Asch's classic Moongame (S & S, 1987) and Nancy Elizabeth Wallace's The Sun, the Moon and the Stars (Houghton, 2003) for nocturnal celebrations.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly This effectively spare, lyrical account chronicles Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between Manhattan's World Trade Center towers in 1974. Gerstein (What Charlie Heard) begins the book like a fairy tale, "Once there were two towers side by side. They were each a quarter of a mile high... The tallest buildings in New York City." The author casts the French aerialist and street performer as the hero: "A young man saw them rise into the sky.... He loved to walk and dance on a rope he tied between two trees." As the man makes his way across the rope from one tree to the other, the towers loom in the background. When Philippe gazes at the twin buildings, he looks "not at the towers but at the space between them.... What a wonderful place to stretch a rope; a wire on which to walk." Disguised as construction workers, he and a friend haul a 440-pound reel of cable and other materials onto the roof of the south tower. How Philippe and his pals hang the cable over the 140-feet distance is in itself a fascinating-and harrowing-story, charted in a series of vertical and horizontal ink and oil panels. An inventive foldout tracking Philippe's progress across the wire offers dizzying views of the city below; a turn of the page transforms readers' vantage point into a vertical view of the feat from street level. When police race to the top of one tower's roof, threatening arrest, Philippe moves back and forth between the towers ("As long as he stayed on the wire he was free"). Gerstein's dramatic paintings include some perspectives bound to take any reader's breath away. Truly affecting is the book's final painting of the imagined imprint of the towers, now existing "in memory"-linked by Philippe and his high wire. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly My friend Rabbit means well, begins the mouse narrator. But whatever he does, wherever he goes, trouble follows. Once Rabbit pitches Mouse's airplane into a tree, Rohmann tells most of the story through bold, expressive relief prints, a dramatic departure for the illustrator of The Cinder-Eyed Cats and other more painterly works. Rabbit might be a little too impulsive, but he has big ideas and plenty of energy. Rohmann pictures the pint-size, long-eared fellow recruiting an elephant, a rhinoceros and other large animals, and coaching them to stand one on top of another, like living building blocks, in order to retrieve Mouse's plane. Readers must tilt the book vertically to view the climactic spread: a tall, narrow portrait of a stack of very annoyed animals sitting on each other's backs as Rabbit holds Squirrel up toward the stuck airplane. The next spread anticipates trouble, as four duckling onlookers scurry frantically; the following scene shows the living ladder upended, with lots of flying feathers and scrabbling limbs. Somehow, in the tumult, the airplane comes free, and Mouse, aloft again, forgives his friend... even as the closing spread implies more trouble to follow. This gentle lesson in patience and loyalty, balanced on the back of a hilarious set of illustrations, will leave young readers clamoring for repeat readings. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Even the book's younger readers will understand the distinctive visual code. As the pigs enter the confines of a storybook page, they conform to that book's illustrative style, appearing as nursery-rhyme friezes or comic-book line drawings. When the pigs emerge from the storybook pages into the meta-landscape, they appear photographically clear and crisp, with shadows and three dimensions. Wiesner's (Tuesday) brilliant use of white space and perspective (as the pigs fly to the upper right-hand corner of a spread on their makeshift plane, or as one pig's snout dominates a full page) evokes a feeling that the characters can navigate endless possibilitiesDand that the range of story itself is limitless. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal K-Gr 6-In Tuesday (Clarion, 1991), Wiesner demonstrated that pigs could fly. Here, he shows what happens when they take control of their story. In an L. Leslie Brooke sort of style (the illustrations are created through a combination of watercolor, gouache, colored inks, and pencils), the wolf comes a-knocking on the straw house. When he puffs, the pig gets blown "right out of the story." (The double spread contains four panels on a white background; the first two follow the familiar story line, but the pig falls out of the third frame, so in the fourth, the wolf looks quite perplexed.) So it goes until the pigs bump the story panels aside, fold one with the wolf on it into a paper airplane, and take to the air. Children will delight in the changing perspectives, the effect of the wolf's folded-paper body, and the whole notion of the interrupted narrative. Wiesner's luxurious use of white space with the textured pigs zooming in and out of view is fresh and funny. They wander through other stories-their bodies changing to take on the new style of illustration as they enter the pages-emerging with a dragon and the cat with a fiddle. The cat draws their attention to a panel with a brick house, and they all sit down to soup, while one of the pigs reconstructs the text. Witty dialogue and physical comedy abound in this inspired retelling of a familiar favorite.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Book list Ages 3^-6. This spectacular, large-format edition has double-page-spread illustrations that resonate with bold strokes and exuberant images of the moon as it prepares for its nightly activities. The moon paints the sky, gets rid of fog and mist, plants dreams, locks up nightmares until morning comes and it's time to go to sleep. Even very young children will understand this simple, almost poetic Spanish rendition of a sweet bedtime story.
School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. "There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President." So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won't know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small's drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men's shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. This title will add spark to any study of this popular subject.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly HThis lighthearted, often humorous roundup of anecdotes and trivia is cast as a handbook of helpful hints to aspiring presidential candidates. St. George (Sacagawea; Crazy Horse) points out that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling ("You probably weren't born in a log cabin. That's too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight"). She serves up diverse, occasionally tongue-in-cheek tidbits and spices the narrative with colorful quotes from her subjects. For instance, she notes that "Warren Harding was a handsome man, but he was one of our worst Presidents" due to his corrupt administration, and backs it up with one of his own quotes, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Meanwhile, Small (The Gardener) shows Harding crowned king of a "Presidential Beauty Contest"; all the other presidents applaud him (except for a grimacing Nixon). The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text. For an illustration of family histories, Small depicts eight diminutive siblings crawling over a patient young George Washington; for another featuring pre-presidential occupations, Harry Truman stands at the cash register of his men's shop while Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) makes alterations on movie star Ronald Reagan's suit. The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding missionDand spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America. Ages 7-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Book list Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. Portraits of the presidents can be generally described as staid, stodgy, and dull. Throw these adjectives out the window when describing this book's group portrayal of American presidents. St. George leads her audience, ostensibly young presidential hopefuls, through the good points of the presidency (big house with its own bowling alley and movie theater) and bad points (lots of homework). Then she offers a spiffy presidential history with comparisions and contrasts: most popular names, log cabin origins, ages, looks, backgrounds, pets, musical abilities, favorite sports, and personalities ("William McKinley was so nice that he tried to stop a mob from attacking the man who had just shot him"). The book holds out the possibility that someday a woman, a person of color, or a person who is neither Protestant nor Roman Catholic might be elected president. The discussion ends with the oath of office and the thought that most presidents have tried to do their best to fulfill it. David Small's delightful illustrations, usually droll and sometimes hilarious, will draw children to the book and entertain them from page to page. Memorable images include the comical sight of the obese President Taft being lowered into a bathtub by a crane and a powerful scene showing two figures, Nixon (looking disgruntled) and Clinton (looking dejected), descending the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, under the shadow of impeachment. Thoughtful composition and layout both contribute to the lively visual presentation of this most original look at the presidency. The light tone of the book makes it possible for readers to absorb a great deal of information, some of it silly, but underlying the treatment is a sense of the significance and dignity of the office and the faith that children still aspire to be president. --Carolyn Phelan
School Library Journal Pre-Gr 3-A book bursting at the seams with ingenuity and creative spirit. When Joseph's overcoat becomes "old and worn," he snips off the patches and turns it into a jacket. When his jacket is beyond repair, he makes a vest. Joseph recycles his garments until he has nothing left. But by trading in his scissors for a pen and paintbrush he creates a story, showing "you can always make something out of nothing." Clever die-cut holes provide clues as to what Joseph will make next: windowpanes in one scene become a scarf upon turning the page. Striking gouache, watercolor, and collage illustrations are chock-full of witty details-letters to read, proverbs on the walls, even a fiddler on the roof. Taback adapted this tale from a Yiddish folk song and the music and English lyrics are appended. The rhythm and repetition make it a perfect storytime read-aloud.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Book list Ages 4^-7. This newly illustrated version of a book Taback first published in 1977 is a true example of accomplished bookmaking--from the typography and the endpapers to the bar code, set in what appears to be a patch of fabric. Taback's mixed-media and collage illustrations are alive with warmth, humor, and humanity. Their colors are festive yet controlled, and they are filled with homey clutter, interesting characters, and a million details to bring children back again and again. The simple text, which was adapted from the Yiddish song "I Had a Little Overcoat," begins as Joseph makes a jacket from his old, worn coat. When the jacket wears out, Joseph makes a vest, and so on, until he has only enough to cover a button. Cut outs emphasize the use and reuse of the material and add to the general sense of fun. When Joseph loses, he writes a story about it all, bringing children to the moral "You can always make something out of nothing." --Tim Arnold
Publishers Weekly As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's inventive use of die-cut pages shows off his signature artwork, here newly created for his 1977 adaptation of a Yiddish folk song. This diverting, sequential story unravels as swiftly as the threads of Joseph's well-loved, patch-covered plaid coat. A flip of the page allows children to peek through to subsequent spreads as Joseph's tailoring produces items of decreasing size. The author puts a droll spin on his narrative when Joseph loses the last remnant of the coatÄa buttonÄand decides to make a book about it. "Which shows... you can always make something out of nothing," writes Taback, who wryly slips himself into his story by depicting Joseph creating a dummy for the book that readers are holding. Still, it's the bustling mixed-media artwork, highlighted by the strategically placed die-cuts, that steals the show. Taback works into his folk art a menagerie of wide-eyed animals witnessing the overcoat's transformation, miniature photographs superimposed on paintings and some clever asides reproduced in small print (a wall hanging declares, "Better to have an ugly patch than a beautiful hole"; a newspaper headline announces, "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof"). With its effective repetition and an abundance of visual humor, this is tailor-made for reading aloud. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal K-Gr 3-This picture-book biography beautifully captures the essence of the life and passion of Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), known to many as "The Snowflake Man." A plaque in his hometown honors the work of this simple farmer who labored for 50 years to develop a technique of microphotography in an attempt to capture "...the grandeur and mystery of the snowflake." The story of this self-taught scientist begins with his early interest in the beauty of snow and his determination to find a way of sharing that beauty with others. At 16, his parents spent their life's savings on a special camera with its own microscope so he could make a permanent record of individual snowflakes. After two years of work, he perfected a technique for making acceptable pictures. He spent the rest of his life photographing ice crystals and sharing them with neighbors and interested scientists and artists around the world. Azarian's woodblock illustrations, hand tinted with watercolors, blend perfectly with the text and recall the rural Vermont of Bentley's time. The inclusion of a photograph of the scientist at work and three of his remarkable photographs adds authenticity. Two articles about his work, one written by Bentley himself, are listed on the CIP page. The story of this man's life is written with graceful simplicity. Sidebars decorated with snowflakes on every page add facts for those who want more details. An inspiring selection.-Virginia Golodetz, Children's Literature New England, Burlington, VT
Publishers Weekly Azarian's (A Farmer's Alphabet) handsome woodcuts provide a homespun backdrop to Martin's (Grandmother Bryant's Pocket) brief biography of a farmboy born in 1865 on the Vermont snowbelt who never lost his fascination with snowflakes. Wilson A. Bentley spent 50 years pioneering the scientific study of ice crystals, and developed a technique of microphotography that allowed him to capture the hexagonal shapes and prove that no two snowflakes are alike. Martin conveys Bentley's passion in lyrical language ("snow was as beautiful as butterflies, or apple blossoms"), and punctuates her text with frequent sidebars packed with intriguing tidbits of information (though readers may be confused by the two that explain Bentley's solution of how to photograph the snowflakes). Hand-tinted with watercolors and firmly anchored in the rural 19th century, Azarian's woodcuts evoke an era of sleighs and woodstoves, front porches and barn doors, and their bold black lines provide visual contrast to the delicate snowflakes that float airily in the sidebars. A trio of Bentley's ground-breaking black-and-white photographs of snowflakes, along with a picture and quote from him about his love for his work, is the icing that tops off this attractive volume. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Publishers Weekly Zelinsky (Swamp Angel) does a star turn with this breathtaking interpretation of a favorite fairy tale. Daringly?and effectively?mimicking the masters of Italian Renaissance painting, he creates a primarily Tuscan setting. His Rapunzel, for example, seems a relative of Botticelli's immortal red-haired beauties, while her tower appears an only partially fantastic exaggeration of a Florentine bell tower. For the most part, his bold experiment brilliantly succeeds: the almost otherworldly golden light with which he bathes his paintings has the effect of consecrating them, elevating them to a grandeur befitting their adoptive art-historical roots. If at times his compositions and their references to specific works seem a bit self-conscious, these cavils are easily outweighed by his overall achievement. The text, like the art, has a rare complexity, treating Rapunzel's imprisonment as her sorceress-adopted mother's attempt to preserve her from the effects of an awakening sexuality. Again like the art, this strategy may resonate best with mature readers. Young children may be at a loss, for example, when faced with the typically well-wrought but elliptical passage in which the sorceress discovers Rapunzel's liaisons with the prince when the girl asks for help fastening her dress (as her true mother did at the story's start): " `It is growing so tight around my waist, it doesn't want to fit me anymore.' Instantly the sorceress understood what Rapunzel did not." On the other hand, with his sophisticated treatment, Zelinsky demonstrates a point established in his unusually complete source notes: that timeless tales like Rapunzel belong to adults as well as children. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal K-Gr 3?An elegant and sophisticated retelling that draws on early French and Italian versions of the tale. Masterful oil paintings capture the Renaissance setting and flesh out the tragic figures. (Nov.)
School Library Journal K-Gr 3?In a lengthy note, Zelinsky explains his research into the pre-Grimm Brothers' origins of "Rapunzel" in French and Italian tales, but his retelling does not vary significantly from other picture-book renditions. However, his version does not sidestep the love between the maiden in the tower and the prince, as some retellers have done. The lovers hold a ceremony of marriage between themselves, and it is Rapunzel's signs of pregnancy that bring about her banishment from the tower and her prince's downfall. What sets this Rapunzel apart from the others is the magnificence of the Renaissance setting. Readers will linger over the opulence and rich details of furnishings and fabrics, and admire the decorative patterns and architectural details of the tower and the rooms. Echoes of high Renaissance art can be seen in the costumes, the buildings, and the landscapes. In their postures and gestures, the richly dressed characters might have stepped out of the paintings of Botticelli and Mantegna and Verrocchio and Raphael. But in Zelinsky's scenes there are no angels, no holy figures, no miracles?only magic. The impossibly high, almost pencil-thin tower looms above the trees. Rapunzel's hair, cascading some 50 feet to the ground, would daunt the sturdiest climbers unless they were a sorceress or a young man in love. Each scene, from the delightful Italianate farm pictured on the endpapers to the last happy scene where the prince and his bride pose with their cherub-like twins, is painted, writes Zelinsky, as a humble attempt to "spur an interest in the magnificent art from which I have drawn." A stunning effort.?Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Book list Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. After his wildly exuberant illustrations for Anne Isaacs' tall tale Swamp Angel (1994), Zelinsky turns to the formal beauty of Italian Renaissance art as the setting for his glowingly illustrated version of an age-old story. And, like Donna Jo Napoli's YA novel Zel (1996), this story is as much about the fierce love of mother for child as it is about the romantic passion between the imprisoned Rapunzel and the prince. Drawing on the Grimms' and earlier versions of the tale, Zelinsky begins with a childless couple, who are thrilled when the wife finally becomes pregnant. She develops a craving for the herb rapunzel, and when her husband is caught stealing it for her, the sorceress makes a terrifying bargain: if she can have the baby, she will allow the wife to live. The stepmother raises Rapunzel, "seeing to her every need," then locks her in a tower away from the world. Only the sorceress can enter the tower, by climbing Rapunzel's flowing hair. Then one day, the prince hears Rapunzel sing, falls in love with her, and learns to climb into the castle. They marry secretly. When Rapunzel becomes pregnant, the furious sorceress drives Rapunzel out, cuts off her hair, and blinds the prince. The lovers wander separately in the wilderness, where Rapunzel gives birth to twins; then the couple find each other, her tears make him see, and they come home to the prince's court. The rich oil paintings evoke the portraits, sculpture, architecture, and light-filled landscapes of Renaissance art. The costumes are lavish, the interiors intricate. Rapunzel is both gorgeous and maidenly. The sorceress is terrifying: the pictures also reveal her motherliness and her vulnerability, especially in the two double-page narrative paintings that frame the drama. One shows the sorceress taking the baby--and we see how she lovingly cradles it in her arms; in the climactic painting, when Rapunzel, the prince, and their children find each other, the whole natural world of rock and sky and tree seem to close around them in a loving embrace. Children--and adults--will pore over the intricate detail and glowing colors; they will also be moved by the mysterious tale of nurture and passion and terror. --Hazel Rochman
Book list Rogasky: Gr. 4^-6, younger for reading aloud; Wisniewski: Gr. 3^-6. Drawing on Jewish legends, two very different versions tell the story of the giant monster of sixteenth-century Prague, created by the holy Rabbi Loew from the clay of the river to help protect his people in the ghetto against racist persecution. Rogasky tells it in 13 expansive chapters, with a colloquial warmth and a Yiddish idiom ("Why? Who knows why?" ) that makes you read it aloud. There's terror when the Poles come after the Jews, especially when they accuse the Jews of killing children to drink the blood, a lie used for centuries to fuel anti-Semitism. In a foreshadowing of the Holocaust, the evil priest Thaddeus, being led away to prison, curses the Jews ("I will return and you will not recognize me . . . I will tell the same lies . . . You will burn, burn as if in the ovens of hell" ); a picture of the gates of Auschwitz ends the chapter. Some of the plotting and counterplotting gets convoluted. But the terror is framed by the rabbi's wise control and by uproarious episodes of domestic farce when the golem takes his household orders literally. Hyman's illustrations in shades of brown and blue, some tall and full-page, some small and unframed, reveal the ordinary and the mysterious in the ghetto community. From the rabbi in his library among his piles of books to the golem rampaging through the streets of Prague, there is a depth of perspective, an expressive sense of character, and an exquisite detail of line. Both author and illustrator provide endnotes about sources in Jewish mysticism and history. Wisniewski's large picture-book version is stark and terrifying. His extraordinary cut-paper collages show and tell the shape-shifting and changing perspectives that are the essence of the story. Chanting spells from the holy books of the Cabala, the rabbi creates the giant, whose task is to protect the Jews and catch those planting false evidence of the Blood Lie. When the mob storms the gates of the ghetto, the golem is a huge Frankenstein monster who smashes the people and their weapons. But Wisniewski adds an element of melancholy to the creature (just as Mary Shelley did). This golem can talk, and when his work is done, he begs to be allowed to go on living. The pictures of the desperate giant trying to prevent his hands and face from dissolving are scenes of horror and sorrow. Wisniewski ends with a long, detailed background note about the religious roots and folklore and about the history of Jewish persecution through the ages. --Hazel Rochman
School Library Journal Gr 3 Up?Wisniewski's retelling of the golem legend varies only slightly from the traditional version recounted by Beverly McDermott in The Golem (HarperCollins, 1975; o.p.). It is the tale of a clay giant formed in the image of man to protect the Jewish people of medieval Prague from destruction by their enemies. His master, the chief rabbi of Prague in the late 16th century, was a highly regarded Cabbalist (a mystic). In this telling, the golem speaks with the simplicity of a child (In many versions he is mute), and he is destroyed when the emperor guarantees the safety of the Jewish people. (Traditionally, the golem goes berserk and must be returned to the earth.) A lengthy note explains the idea of the Golem and details Jewish persecution throughout history. Wisniewski has used layers of cut paper to give depth to his illustrations, many of which have a three-dimensional appearance. A wispy layer, which begins as the vapor of creation, becomes smoke from torches carried by an angry mob of armed silhouette people and horses. The colors are browns and grays of the earth, sunrise mauve, and the pumpkin and burnt orange of fire and sunset. Skillful use of perspective enhances the Golem's immense size. While the plot is stronger than in Mark Podwal's retelling (Greenwillow, 1995), Wisniewski's text lacks the power and child appeal of McDermott's spare, well-crafted tale. Still, collections wanting another edition of the story might consider this one.?Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Publishers Weekly Elaborately composed cut-paper spreads give a 3D, puppet-show-like quality to a retelling of a Jewish legend. Rabbi Loew has a prophetic vision in 1580 when the Jews of Prague are accused of mixing the blood of Christian children into matzoh: he must create a Golem, "a giant of living clay, animated by Cabala, mystical teachings of unknown power." Brought to life with apocalyptic explosions of steam and rain, the Golem seeks out the perpetrators of the Blood Lie and turns them over to the authorities. Thwarted, the enraged enemies of the Jews storm the gates of the ghetto, but the Golem grows to enormous height and violently defeats them with their own battering ram. Once his work is done, he pitifully (and futilely) begs the Rabbi: "Please let me live! I did all that you asked of me! Life is so... precious... to me!" Wisniewski (The Wave of the Sea Wolf) emphasizes the Golem's humanity and the problems with his existence; instead of reducing the legend to a tale of a magical rescuer, the author allows for its historical and emotional complexity. The fiery, crisply layered paper illustrations, portraying with equal drama and precision the ornamental architecture of Prague and the unearthly career of the Golem, match the specificity and splendor of the storytelling. An endnote about the history and influence of the legend is particularly comprehensive. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)
School Library Journal K-Gr 3?A fresh, funny story about the wonders of teamwork. Officer Buckle is a safety-conscious policeman who spends his time devising tips for avoiding accidents. Unfortunately, the children of Napville School are an ungrateful audience, snoring through his lectures and ignoring his advice. Enter Gloria, Napville's new police dog and Officer Buckle's new partner. She accompanies him when he gives his lecture and performs her duties with aplomb. Buckle is surprised to see the children so attentive, but each time he checks on Gloria, she is sitting at attention. Thanks to the humorous illustrations, readers know what Buckle does not?Gloria is performing to beat the band, acting out the various accidents behind his back. Things are swell until a news team videotapes Buckle and his amazing sidekick and he learns that the reason for his newfound popularity is really Gloria's comedy routine. This sends the officer into quite a slump. Her act is a complete flop without him, however, and Napville School has its biggest accident ever after her solo performance. In the end, Buckle realizes that they're only successful as a team, and he is jolted out of his self-pitying funk. The vibrant palette of the cartoon art, as well as the amusing story, make this title an appealing read-aloud choice. Older children will enjoy poring over the many safety tips presented on the endpapers, all illustrated by Gloria's antics. A five-star performance.?Lisa S. Murphy, formerly at Dauphin County Library System, Harrisburg, PA
Book list Ages 4^-7. When rotund, good-natured Officer Buckle visits school assemblies to read off his sensible safety tips, the children listen, bored and polite, dozing off one by one. But when the new police dog, Gloria, stands behind him, secretly miming the dire consequences of acting imprudently, the children suddenly become attentive, laughing uproariously and applauding loudly. The good policeman is first gratified with the response, then deflated to learn that Gloria was stealing the show. Finally, he realizes that he and Gloria make a great team, and they take their show on the road again, adding a new message, "ALWAYS STICK WITH YOUR BUDDY!" Like Officer Buckle and Gloria, the deadpan humor of the text and slapstick wit of the illustrations make a terrific combination. Large, expressive line drawings illustrate the characters with finesse, and the Kool-Aid-bright washes add energy and pizzazz. Children will enjoy the many safety-tip notes tacked up on the endpapers and around the borders of the jacket front. Somehow, the familiar advice (like "Never leave a bar of soap where someone might step on it" or "Never tilt your chair back on two legs" ) is more entertaining accompanied by little drawings of Gloria hamming it up. --Carolyn Phelan
Publishers Weekly Rathmann (Good Night, Gorilla) brings a lighter-than-air comic touch to this outstanding, solid-as-a-brick picture book. Officer Buckle, a mustachioed policeman who wears a crossed-out-banana-peel patch on his sleeve, has a passion for teaching students about safety, but his audiences tend to doze off during his lectures. They awaken, however, when police dog Gloria joins Buckle onstage. As Buckle speaks, Gloria-behind Buckle's back-mimes each safety lesson (e.g., leaping sky-high for ``Never leave a thumbtack where you might sit on it!'' and making her fur stand on end to illustrate ``Do not go swimming during electrical storms!''). School safety increases tenfold and Buckle and Gloria find themselves in great demand. But when he finally learns of his sidekick's secret sideshow, Buckle's feelings are terribly hurt. Rathmann's high-voltage cartoons, outlined in black ink for punchy contrast, capture her characters' every feeling, from Gloria's hammy glee and Buckle's surprised satisfaction to Gloria's shame at having tricked her partner. In a sound and sensitive conclusion, Gloria's disastrous attempt to go solo inspires Buckle's ``best safety tip yet'': ``Always stick with your buddy!'' As a bonus, equally sage sayings decorate the volume's endpapers. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Book list Ages 5 and up. Say won the Caldecott Medal for this autobiographical story of his grandfather's journey from Japan to the U.S. It is a version of the American dream that includes discovery and adventure but no sense of arrival. He gets our homesickness, our restlessness, wherever we are.
Publishers Weekly Say transcends the achievements of his Tree of Cranes and A River Dream with this breathtaking picture book, at once a very personal tribute to his grandfather and a distillation of universally shared emotions. Elegantly honed text accompanies large, formally composed paintings to convey Say's family history; the sepia tones and delicately faded colors of the art suggest a much-cherished and carefully preserved family album. A portrait of Say's grandfather opens the book, showing him in traditional Japanese dress, ``a young man when he left his home in Japan and went to see the world.'' Crossing the Pacific on a steamship, he arrives in North America and explores the land by train, by riverboat and on foot. One especially arresting, light-washed painting presents Grandfather in shirtsleeves, vest and tie, holding his suit jacket under his arm as he gazes over a prairie: ``The endless farm fields reminded him of the ocean he had crossed.'' Grandfather discovers that ``the more he traveled, the more he longed to see new places,'' but he nevertheless returns home to marry his childhood sweetheart. He brings her to California, where their daughter is born, but her youth reminds him inexorably of his own, and when she is nearly grown, he takes the family back to Japan. The restlessness endures: the daughter cannot be at home in a Japanese village; he himself cannot forget California. Although war shatters Grandfather's hopes to revisit his second land, years later Say repeats the journey: ``I came to love the land my grandfather had loved, and I stayed on and on until I had a daughter of my own.'' The internal struggle of his grandfather also continues within Say, who writes that he, too, misses the places of his childhood and periodically returns to them. The tranquility of the art and the powerfully controlled prose underscore the profundity of Say's themes, investing the final line with an abiding, aching pathos: ``The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other.'' Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal Gr 3 Up-A personal history of three generations of the author's family that points out the emotions that are common to the immigrant experience. Splendid, photoreal watercolors have the look of formal family portraits or candid snapshots, all set against idyllic landscapes in Japan and in the U.S. (Sept., 1993)
Book list Ages 6^-8, older for reading alone. Winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal, this is an exquisitely illustrated account of the restless journey of an early Japanese American immigrant who came to California and always felt caught between his new home and the one he left behind.
Book list Ages 4-7. McCully has created a picture book in a totally different vein than that of Picnic [BKL Ap 1 84] or School [BKL S 1 87]. Set 100 years ago at a boarding house in Paris, the story features Mirette, the owner's young daughter. One day the great high-wire walker Bellini arrives to stay, and in fascination Mirette observes him practicing his craft. Curious and committed, Mirette begins studying with Bellini and quickly learns the tricks of the trade. She also discovers, however, that her teacher is stricken with fear and no longer performs. In refusing to accept this, she spurs Bellini to stage a comeback above the streets of Paris. McCully delivers an exciting outcome, and her gutsy heroine and bright, impressionistic paintings provide a very satisfying reading experience. ~--Kathryn Broderick
Publishers Weekly In this picture book set in 19th-century Paris, a child helps a daredevil who has lost his edge to regain his confidence. Many traveling performers stay at Madame Gateaux's boarding house, but Mme.'s daughter Mirette is particularly taken with one guest--the quiet gentleman who can walk along the clothesline without falling off. Mirette implores the boarder to teach her his craft, not knowing that her instructor is the ``Great Bellini'' of high wire fame. After much practice the girl joins Bellini on the wire as he conquers his fear and demonstrates to all of Paris that he is still the best. McCully's story has an exciting premise and starting point, but unfortunately ends up as a missed opportunity. Bellini's anxiety may be a bit sophisticated for the intended audience and, surprisingly, the scenes featuring Mirette and Bellini on the high wire lack drama and intensity. McCully's rich palette and skillful renderings of shadow and light sources make this an inviting postcard from the Old World. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)
School Library Journal K-Gr 4-- Mirette's mother keeps a boardinghouse that attracts traveling performers . The girl is intrigued by one silent visitor, Bellini, who has come for a rest. She finds him next morning walking a high wire strung across the backyard. Immediately, she is drawn to it, practicing on it herself until she finds her balance and can walk its distance. But she finds the man unusually secretive about his identity; he was a famous high-wire artist, but has lost his courage. He is lured by an agent to make a comeback, but freezes on the wire. Seeing Mirette at the end of it restores his nerve; after the performance the two set off on a new career together. As improbable as the story is, its theatrical setting at some historical distance, replete with European architecture and exotic settings and people, helps lend credibility to this circus tale. Mirette, through determination and perhaps talent, trains herself, overcoming countless falls on cobblestone, vaunting pride that goes before a fall, and lack of encouragement from Bellini. The impressionistic paintings, full of mottled, rough edges and bright colors, capture both the detail and the general milieu of Paris in the last century. The colors are reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec, the daubing technique of Seurat. A satisfying, high-spirited adventure. --Ruth K. MacDonald, Purdue Univ . Calumet, Hammond, IN
Publishers Weekly In this nearly wordless picture book, Wiesner ( Hurricane ; Free Fall ) again takes readers on an imaginative voyage, using everyday reality merely as a touchstone. Here, a squadron of frogs soars through the night air one Tuesday, squatting upon lilypads that they use as flying carpets. Apparently intending no harm, these mysterious visitors to a suburban development leave a minimum of disruption as evidence of their eerie flight: a few startled eyewitnesses, some scattered lilypads and a spooked dog. Wiesner's visuals are stunning: slightly surrealistic, imbued with mood and mystery, and executed with a seemingly flawless command of palette and perspective. But, perhaps because this fantasy never coalesces around a human figure, it is less accessible and less resonant than his tales that center on a child protagonist. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)
Book list Ages 4-7. While technically not a wordless picture book, this has no text other than occasional markers of time, "Tuesday evening around eight" or "11:21 p.m.," to guide viewers through one remarkable night and suggest what happens one week later. On the first night, frogs rise from their ponds on lily pads that magically float like flying carpets. Leaving their country home, the frogs fly into town, where they peek through windows, enter a house to watch television, and terrorize a dog. At dawn the magic ends, and the frogs hop back home, leaving wet lily pads in the streets to puzzle the townsfolk and the police. The following Tuesday at dusk, pigs rise into the air, like helium balloons. Then the book ends, leaving viewers to imagine the magic and mayhem to follow. As in Free Fall [BKL Je 1 88], Wiesner offers a fantasy watercolor journey accomplished with soft-edged realism. Studded with bits of humor, the narrative artwork tells a simple, pleasant story with a consistency and authenticity that make the fantasy convincing. While this trip may not take children far, its open-ended conclusion invites them to carry on the fantasy, allowing for unexpected magic in everyday, modern settings. ~--Carolyn Phelan
School Library Journal K-Gr 4-- As the full moon rises over a peaceful marsh, so do frogs on their lily pads--levitating straight up into the air and sailing off, with surpris with some laundry, hovering briefly before a TV left on. A dog chases one lone low-coasting frog, but is summarily routed by a concerted amphibious armada. Suddenly the rays of the rising sun dispel the magic; the frogs fall to ed but gratified expressions. Fish stick their heads out of the water to watch; a turtle gapes goggle-eyed. The phalanx of froggies glides over houses in a sleeping village, interrupting the one witness's midnight snack, tanglingthe ground and hop back to their marsh, leaving police puzzling over the lily pads on Main Street. In the final pages, the sun sets on the following Tuesday--and the air fills with ascending pigs! Dominated by rich blues and greens, and fully exploiting its varied perspectives, this book treats its readers to the pleasures of airborne adventure. It may not be immortal, but kids will love its lighthearted, meticulously imagined, fun-without-a-moral fantasy. Tuesday is bound to take off. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle
Publishers Weekly At first glance, this is a collection of four unrelated stories, each occupying a quarter of every two-page spread, and each a slight enough tale to seem barely worth a book--a boy on a train, parents in a funny mood, a convict's escape and a late commuter train. The magic of Black and White comes not from each story, however, but from the mysterious interactions between them that creates a fifth story. Several motifs linking the tales are immediately apparent, such as trains--real and toy--and newspapers. A second or third reading reveals suggestions of the title theme: Holstein cows, prison uniform stripes. Eventually, the stories begin to merge into a surrealistic tale spanning several levels of reality, e.g.: Are characters in one story traveling on the toy train in another? Answers are never provided--this is not a mystery or puzzle book. Instead, Black and White challenges the reader to use text and pictures in unexpected ways. Although the novelty will wear off quickly for adults, no other writer for adults or children explores this unusual territory the way Macaulay does. All ages. (Apr.)
School Library Journal Gr 1-5-With forceful impressionistic paintings, Young artfully entices readers across the fairy-tale threshold into a story of three girls' fearless battle of wits with a famished wolf. (Dec. 1989)
Publishers Weekly This version of the Red Riding Hood story from Young ( The Emperor and the Kite ; Cats Are Cats ; Yeh-Shen ) features three daughters left at home when their mother goes to visit their grandmother. Lon Po Po, the Granny Wolf, pretends to be the girls' grandmother, until clever Shang, the eldest daughter, suspects the greedy wolf's real identity. Tempting him with ginkgo nuts, the girls pull him in a basket to the top of the tree in which they are hiding, then let go of the rope--killing him. One of Young's most arresting illustrations accompanies his dedication: ``To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness.'' Like ancient Oriental paintings, the illustrations are frequently grouped in panels. When the girls meet the wolf, e.g., the left panel focuses on their wary faces peering out from the darkness, the middle enlarges the evil wolf's eye and teeth, and the third is a vivid swirl of the blue clothes in which the wolf is disguised. The juxtaposition of abstract and realistic representations, the complicated play of color and shadow, and the depth of the artist's vision all help transform this simple fairy tale into an extraordinary and powerful book. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)
School Library Journal Gr 1-5-- A gripping variation on Red Riding Hood that involves three little sisters who outsmart the wolf ( lon or long in Cantonese) who has gained entry to their home under the false pretense of being their maternal grandmother ( Po Po ). The clever animal blows out the candle before the children can see him , and is actually in bed with them when they start asking the traditional ``Why, Grandma!'' questions. The eldest realizes the truth and tricks the wolf into letting them go outside to pick gingko nuts , and then lures him to his doom. The text possesses that matter-of-fact veracity that characterizes the best fairy tales. The watercolor and pastel pictures are remarkable: mystically beautiful in their depiction of the Chinese countryside, menacing in the exchanges with the wolf, and positively chilling in the scenes inside the house. Overall, this is an outstanding achievement that will be pored over again and again.--John Philbrook, San Francisco Pub . Lib .
Book list Ages 2-7. An exquisite mood piece, Owl Moon is a poetic story of a winter-wrapped little girl and her father's owling adventure. The elusive magic and gentle shivery excitement that accompany the twosome are felt by the reader. The late-night walks are steeped in family tradition, no words are exchanged, but the companionship of the elusive quest speaks volumes. ``When you go owling / you don't need words / or warm / or anything but hope. That's what Pa says.'' The integrity of Yolen's pleasure in writing about her subject is evident, and Schoenherr, also an owling enthusiast, captures the stark blue-black majesty of the nighttime forest in his powerful and evocative watercolor illustrations. Excellent for one-on-one or read-aloud groups. PW. Owls Fiction / Fathers and daughters Fiction [CIP] 87-2300
Publishers Weekly A girl and her father go owling on a moonlit winter night near the farm where they live. Bundled tight in wool clothes, they trudge through snow ``whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl''; here and there, hidden in ink-blue shadows, a fox, raccoon, fieldmouse and deer watch them pass. An air of expectancy builds as Pa imitates the Great Horned Owl's call once without answer, then again. From out of the darkness ``an echo/ came threading its way/ through the trees.'' Schoenherr's watercolor washes depict a New England few readers see: the bold stare of a nocturnal owl, a bird's-eye view of a farmhouse. In harmony with the art, the melodious text brings to life an unusual countryside adventure. Ages 2-6. (November)
Book list Ages 5-9. This child and father's moonlight search for an owl through a snow-covered landscape is ideal for January sharing and can be smoothly linked with Franklyn Branley's informative Snow Is Falling and Patricia Hunt's Snowy Owls.Year Round Reading
School Library Journal K Up The theme here is, ``be happy with who you are,'' or maybe, ``there's no free lunch.'' Al, a janitor, lives a meager existence with his companion (dog) Eddie in New York City. They complain to each other about their lot and are ready to take off to a better place with a huge bird who just pops in and invites them. This ``island in the sky'' is perfect. All its inhabitants are friendly birds, and there's nothing to do but enjoy the tropical paradise. But when they both begin to sprout feathers and beaks, they realize that there is a price to pay, so they take off, Icarus-styleincluding a plunge into New York Harbor. Safely home, they discover that ``Paradise lost is sometimes Heaven found.'' Egielski's solid naturalism provides just the visual foil needed to establish the surreal character of this fantasy. The muted earth tones of the one-room flat contrast symbolically with the bright hues of the birds' plumage and the foliage of the floating paradise. The anatomical appropriateness of Al and Eddie plays neatly against the flamboyant depiction of the plants. Text and pictures work together to challenge readers' concept of reality, with touches such as the stacks of delivered newspapers outside Al's door when he returns fromhis ``dream''? Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus
Book list Al, a modest janitor, and his dog Eddie are spirited away to a wonderful new life by a mysterious bird, but they soon learn that paradise has its price and home has its rewards. Energetic, thought-provoking illustrations. The 1987 Caldecott Medal Book. (Ja 1 87)
School Library Journal Gr 1-3 Given a talented and aggressive imagination, even the challenge of as cliche-worn a subject as Santa Claus can be met effectively. Van Allsburg's Polar Express is an old-fashioned steam train that takes children to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to meet the red-suited gentleman and to see him off on his annual sleigh ride. This is a personal retelling of the adult storyteller's adventures as a youngster on that train. The telling is straight, thoughtfully clean-cut and all the more mysterious for its naive directness; the message is only a bit less direct: belief keeps us young at heart. The full-page images are theatrically lit. Colors are muted, edges of forms are fuzzy, scenes are set sparsely, leaving the details to the imagination. The light comes only from windows of buildings and the train or from a moon that's never depicted. Shadows create darkling spaces and model the naturalistic figures of children, wolves, trees, old-fashioned furniture and buildings. Santa Claus and his reindeer seem like so many of the icons bought by parents to decorate yards and rooftops: static, posed with stereotypic gestures. These are scenes from a memory of long ago, a dreamy reconstruction of a symbolic experience, a pleasant remembrance rebuilt to fufill a current wish: if only you believe, you too will hear the ringing of the silver bell that Santa gave him and taste rich hot chocolate in your ride through the wolf-infested forests of reality. Van Allsburg's express train is one in which many of us wish to believe. Kenneth Marantz, Art Education Department, Ohio State University, Columbus
Publishers Weekly Several treasured titles make a comeback as reissues. In preparation for the November release of the book-based film starring Tom Hanks, Houghton has reshot the artwork for the 1986 Caldecott Medal- winning The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg, sprucing up this perennial holiday favorite. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Book list Gr. 1-3. Life in nineteenth-century New England is depicted as a farmer takes his family's produce to Portsmouth Market. After selling everything even his ox and cart he buys supplies and returns home to start another year. A 1980 Caldecott winner.
Book list Ages 5-9. The cycle of the seasons comes vividly alive as pictures and text follow a New England farm family in the mid-1800s as they till the soil, harvest their crops, and sell their goods at market.