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FRITZ DANCED THE FANDANGO

Marching—dancing, rather—to the beat of a different drummer, Fritz whirls and twirls away from his mocking fellow goats in search of a herd that respects terpsichoreans. Along the way he picks up Liesl, a sheep who’s been booted from her flock for yodeling (“YODEL-LAY-HEEEEEEEEEEEE-EWE!”), and Gerhard the dog, similarly exiled for playing the glockenspiel. Long illustrates this distant cousin to “The Bremen Town Musicians” in bright, Bill Peet–style cartoons, depicting the three pop-eyed fellow travelers trotting up and down grassy sunlit hills with purple mountains in the near background. When Fritz at length loses heart (“Will I ever find my herd? Am I destined to dance alone?”), his companions twirl loyally into the breach, dancing his dance and making such a “ruckus on the buttercuppy hills” that Fritz’s heart “fandangoed with joy.” Since Fritz’s capering includes lots of leaps, it looks more like ballet than traditional fandango, but no matter—the trio’s quest should be a short one, considering all the performing livestock already on library shelves, and the theme of unity-in-diversity is brought home with a light touch. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-545-07554-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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WHAT THE ROAD SAID

Inspiration, shrink wrapped.

From an artist, poet, and Instagram celebrity, a pep talk for all who question where a new road might lead.

Opening by asking readers, “Have you ever wanted to go in a different direction,” the unnamed narrator describes having such a feeling and then witnessing the appearance of a new road “almost as if it were magic.” “Where do you lead?” the narrator asks. The Road’s twice-iterated response—“Be a leader and find out”—bookends a dialogue in which a traveler’s anxieties are answered by platitudes. “What if I fall?” worries the narrator in a stylized, faux hand-lettered type Wade’s Instagram followers will recognize. The Road’s dialogue and the narration are set in a chunky, sans-serif type with no quotation marks, so the one flows into the other confusingly. “Everyone falls at some point, said the Road. / But I will always be there when you land.” Narrator: “What if the world around us is filled with hate?” Road: “Lead it to love.” Narrator: “What if I feel stuck?” Road: “Keep going.” De Moyencourt illustrates this colloquy with luminous scenes of a small, brown-skinned child, face turned away from viewers so all they see is a mop of blond curls. The child steps into an urban mural, walks along a winding country road through broad rural landscapes and scary woods, climbs a rugged metaphorical mountain, then comes to stand at last, Little Prince–like, on a tiny blue and green planet. Wade’s closing claim that her message isn’t meant just for children is likely superfluous…in fact, forget the just.

Inspiration, shrink wrapped. (Picture book. 6-8, adult)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26949-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2021

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