Books by William Noonan

GREAT CRYSTAL BEAR by Carolyn Lesser
Released: March 1, 1996

Lesser (What a Wonderful Day to be a Cow, 1995, etc.) weaves a surprising number of facts into a lyrical narrative about a year in the life of a polar bear. Readers learn how the bear's hollow white hairs gather sunlight while its black skin absorbs the heat, how it kills and eats and leaves behind meat for other, less able, animals. Some in the picture-book set will grow impatient with the long, poetic lines: "Great crystal bear, / Alone/In the vast winter darkness, / Are you the mystical Nanuk of Inuit legend, / A man who enters an igloo/And emerges a bear, dressed in fur?'' Noonan's impressive watercolor paintings have mostly soft blue backgrounds, rendering the white of the polar bear's fur luminous, but the environment is pristine and dreamy: This bear kills and consumes a couple of seals without shedding a drop of blood. The book works best as a complement to more straightforward books about the polar bear. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1992

A perfunctory introduction to seven ``monsters'' that might or might not be hiding out in some of the world's wilder places: the human-like Bigfoot, Yeti, and Mongolian Almas; Nessie, and Lusca, the giant octopus; the dinosaurian Mokele-Mbembe and the huge winged Kongamato, both of tropical Africa. All get unskeptical essays describing efforts to track them down and identify them, prefaced by fictional encounters—Bigfoot briefly kidnaps a young hunter; Kongamato buzzes a white man who spurns the protective magic of his native guide; a young Sherpa and her grandfather bait a trap for Yeti with beer; etc. Walker is no storyteller; though his language is sometimes lurid (``Between the tall trees, gnarled manzanita bushes grow like blood-red demons''), the episodes have a sameness—the monster appears, makes menacing gestures at a terrified human, and departs or escapes. Noonan's small, undetailed portraits lend some drama but are more suggestive than accurate; Kongamato, for instance, is seen with a long tail, though it's described in the text as a pterodactyl (and therefore tailless, or nearly so). Supplementary at best. The annotated bibliography, characteristically, mentions none of Daniel Cohen's books. (Nonfiction. 10-13) Read full book review >