HOW THE ROOSTER GOT HIS CROWN

A great combination: a cryptically amusing, ancient Chinese tale retold with verve and respect for the original, accompanied by stunningly beautiful, transporting artwork. Poole tackles the folktale about the rooster and how he got the funny-looking red thing on his head, setting it in the Miao Kingdom of western China. It all comes about because there are too many suns in the sky (which Poole represents with ancient icons, e.g., yin-yang, the spiral, the maze-like symbol for long life, the raven, a star). When the rains fail, the suns start to parch the earth. Wise men gather to debate a course of action and a clever and skillful archer is called from distant lands. He remedies the problem by shooting the suns’ reflection in a pond, but the one sun that survives is so scared it hides in a cave. Six suns were five too many, but the last one is essential. After others fail to coax the sun from the cave, the lowly rooster gives it a go, and the sun, bewitched by the rooster’s singular song, appears. Once the sun hears the peoples’ cheers, it relaxes and takes its place in the heavens. This story, with many gratifying elements to explore, and exquisite illustrations—folk-art paintings on textured paper—to behold, will keep on giving with each reading. (Picture book/folklore. 3-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1389-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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