PLEASE, MALESE!

A TRICKSTER TALE FROM HAITI

The stories of Haiti are filled with the deeds of the clever, sly Ti Malice and his acquaintance Bouki, whose wits are not as nimble. In her author’s note, MacDonald (Quentin Fenton Herter III, 2002, etc.) acknowledges using a tale of a “legendary shrewd peasant” referred to in a book on Haitian culture, The Magic Island (1929), by W.B. Seabrook, a New York Times reporter and a great traveler. Her character Malese (a variation on Ti Malice) fools various villagers into providing rum and shoes for him in an ingenious way, just as the peasant Theot Brun succeeded in doing in the original story, credited to Ernest Chauvet, publisher of Le Nouvelliste, a venerable Haitian newspaper. She has taken this story, whether legendary or true, and constructed her own trickster tale in which Malese not only winds up with a jug that is filled with more rum than water and a full pair of new shoes made to his specifications by two different cobblers, but also a donkey ride from Bouki. When his neighbors try to lock up Malese for a month to punish him for his illegitimate dealings, he uses his gift of gab to shame them into freeing him after only one day—and fixing his roof in the bargain. Lisker’s (The Story of Shabbat, 2000, etc.) exciting paintings, with their intense tropical colors and bold forms, are reminiscent of Haitian paintings, but lack the detail and specificity of the most interesting of the country’s naïf works. Readers can start here to get a taste of this particular trickster tradition and then go on to find other tales about Ti Malice. (author’s note) (Folktale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-36000-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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