CHOPSTICKS

From the Spoon series

Who knew there were so many lessons to be learned from a cutlery drawer? (Picture book. 4-8)

This companion to the well-loved Spoon (2009) is equally charming.

When one member of a pair of chopsticks suffers an accident, both learn that friendship can benefit from separation. Full of visual and verbal puns, with a supporting cast of the familiar Knife, Fork and Spoon, the plucky chopsticks learn that sticking together sometimes requires venturing out alone. Encouraged by his injured friend to get out and go, the healthy chopstick discovers hidden strengths by joining in a game of pick-up sticks, helping Spoon with the pole vault, testing cupcakes for doneness and conducting a cutlery band. When the friend recovers (and “[f]eels fantastic(k)!”), the two find that being apart “had made each of them even stronger”—and furthermore they find many new things they can now do together. “Toasted” by their friends, they conclude with a rendition of “Chopsticks,” with Magoon’s clever drawings hitting all the right notes. Most picture books that deal with a separation between friends focus either on healing after an argument or getting by after a friend has moved away. This is refreshing in its lighthearted, upbeat treatment of the value of occasionally going one's own way.

Who knew there were so many lessons to be learned from a cutlery drawer? (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-0796-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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