Aesop’s fable gets a Northern Chinese setting in this stiffly formal version. As the ants, “mindful of the winter to come,” work “to secure their home against the impending cold and snow,” Grasshopper idly enjoys watching the activities of the Emperor and his court—and so is caught flat when the court suddenly moves away to its winter quarters, and the ants too disappear. The tale thereupon ends abruptly, with neither the moral nor Grasshopper’s fate made explicit. The illustrations are also sketchy, reduced to essentials. Though Poole (How The Rooster Got His Crown, 1999) sets this in the Imperial Summer Gardens, near which she lived for four years, backgrounds are suggested with, at most, a few brushstrokes. Similarly, patterns on the court’s robes are indistinct, as are the courtiers’ faces, and for a garden, the visible landscapes look surprisingly bare. Grasshopper himself is rendered in a stylized way, with a flexible, mantis-like neck, human eyes, and legs that seem to migrate along his body from scene to scene. Poole uses traditional Chinese brushes and techniques here, and judging from the visual result and the appended note seems more focused on the technical exercise than the story. Still, children will get the point, as well as a ground-level glimpse of a vanished way of life, and picture book versions of the fable are rare. (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1477-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.


From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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Nolen and Nelson offer a smaller, but no less gifted counterpart to Big Jabe (2000) in this new tall tale. Shortly after being born one stormy night, Rose thanks her parents, picks a name, and gathers lightning into a ball—all of which is only a harbinger of feats to come. Decked out in full cowboy gear and oozing self-confidence from every pore, Rose cuts a diminutive, but heroic figure in Nelson’s big, broad Western scenes. Though she carries a twisted iron rod as dark as her skin and ropes clouds with fencing wire, Rose overcomes her greatest challenge—a pair of rampaging twisters—not with strength, but with a lullaby her parents sang. After turning tornadoes into much-needed rain clouds, Rose rides away, “that mighty, mighty song pressing on the bull’s-eye that was set at the center of her heart.” Throughout, she shows a reflective bent that gives her more dimension than most tall-tale heroes: a doff of the Stetson to her and her creators. (author’s note) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-15-216472-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Silver Whistle/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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