A swell compilation (almost as good as the 150,000 first printing, BOMC choice, etc., suggests) of "the heart and soul of America's story" —folk tales and songs from major ethnic groups, historical vignettes, and more, all arranged in 15 topical sections (with eight to ten entries each) on historical periods, typical genres (tricksters; nonsense; animal stories), and such quintessentially American topics as railroads, tall-tale heroes, and baseball (including Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First?"—one of several entries not easily available elsewhere). Cohn's selections are informed by conscience as well as diversity (the ten pieces in the section entitled "Let My People Go" all represent African-American points of view); her range, representation, and ear for cadence, humor, and appeal are admirable. The best entries are well-honed songs and stories left in the form in which they earned their popularity; the abridgments, retellings, and historical summaries don't have the same energy, but do help tie it all together and make a vehicle for the art that comprises nearly half of this generously huge book. The 14 blue-ribbon artists, most of them Caldecott medalists, aren't always at their best here, nor do they always work in their trademark styles and media (Van Allsburg's humorous "Frozen Logger" is in intricate pen and ink), but there's a wealth of splendid images (Ed Young's concluding "Earth/always/endures"—Native American), and some intriguing matches (Trina Schart Hyman illustrating a Julius Lester tale originally visualized by fellow contributor Jerry Pinkney). Introductory comments for each entry plus interesting endnotes (including "Read More About It" sections) and more specific acknowledgements yield a lot (but not always the actual sources for the retold stories, and it's cumbersome to search all three). A treasure-trove for browsing, enlivening the curriculum, reading aloud, devouring whole, or returning to nibble again and again. (Anthology. 4-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-590-42868-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1993

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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For the 90's, a handsome, well-documented collection of stories about nine uniquely American characters. In her intelligent introduction, Osborne explains their genesis ``from various combinations of historical fact, the storytelling of ordinary people, and the imagination of professional writers'' and notes that changing times put a new light on stories deriding various groups (including women and even animals). Thus her intention is to emphasize ``gargantuan physical courage and absurd humor'' and to ``bring out the vulnerable and compassionate side'' despite the stories' ``ineradicable taint of violence.'' Osborne succeeds pretty well in her intention, piecing together stories that make fine introductions to characters like Mose and Stormalong. Her approach suits Johnny Appleseed and John Henry better than it does Davy Crockett battling a panther, but she does manage to put a new slant on Pecos Bill and his bouncing bride without undermining the story (there's no question of a wife's disobedience here; Sue wants to ride Bill's horse as a test of skill). The telling is more polished than lively—Glen Rounds's irrepressible wit (Ol' Paul, the Mighty Logger, 1949) is more fun, but these versions are perfectly acceptable. McCurdy's vigorous wood engravings, tinted with lucid color, contribute a rugged frontier flavor; lively, though a bit formal in style, they suit the text admirably. Each story is introduced by source notes; a story-by-story bibliography provides a good roundup of this popular genre. (Folklore. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-80089-1

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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