SHOES LIKE MISS ALICE'S

A new sitter charms away her young charge's anxiety in this brief, unpersuasive problem-solver from Johnson (Toning the Sweep, 1993, etc.). As soon as Sara waves goodbye to her mother, Miss Alice puts on her blue ``dancing shoes'' and turns on the radio. Later, out come brown walkers for a stroll outside, fuzzy slippers for a nap, and bare feet for sitting on the bedroom floor drawing pictures. That night, Sara dances by herself, wearing her own dancing shoes. Johnson's spare language doesn't convey much of the breadth or depth of Sara's feelings—''I danced a long time with Miss Alice. We got hungry and ate a snack...but I got sad.'' The illustrations don't always provide the needed elaboration; although Page—in his first book—sometimes captures a natural-looking gesture or expression, his figures (especially in their faces) are often unfinished or indistinct. Miss Alice has a fixed, anxious-to-please look throughout. Small details are absent or confusing (Why is Sara in a buttoned-up dress all day—even for her nap? Where is the TV in this preternaturally neat, impersonal house?) and the visual flow lurches at the end; Miss Alice vanishes in the turn of the page and Sara is last seen suspended against an abstract background. There's a good idea here, but it is so stripped down that readers are unlikely to find its comforting message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-531-06814-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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UNICORN WINGS

The can’t-miss subject of this Step into Reading series entry—a unicorn with a magic horn who also longs for wings—trumps its text, which is dry even by easy-reader standards. A boy unicorn, whose horn has healing powers, reveals his wish to a butterfly in a castle garden, a bluebird in the forest and a snowy white swan in a pond. Falling asleep at the edge of the sea, the unicorn is visited by a winged white mare. He heals her broken wing and she flies away. After sadly invoking his wish once more, he sees his reflection: “He had big white wings!” He flies off after the mare, because he “wanted to say, ‘Thank you.’ ” Perfectly suiting this confection, Silin-Palmer’s pictures teem with the mass market–fueled iconography of what little girls are (ostensibly) made of: rainbows, flowers, twinkly stars and, of course, manes down to there. (Easy reader. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83117-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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SKELETON HICCUPS

Who hasn’t shared the aggravation of a whole day’s worth of bone-rattling hiccups? Poor Skeleton wakes up with a deadly case that he can’t shake, and it’s up to his friend Ghost to think of something to scare them away. Cuyler (Stop, Drop, and Roll, 2001, etc.) cleverly brings readers through the ups and downs of Skeleton’s day, from shower to ball-playing. Home folk remedies (holding his breath, eating sugar) don’t seem to work, but Ghost applies a new perspective startling enough to unhinge listeners and Skeleton alike. While the concept is clever, it’s Schindler’s (How Santa Lost His Job, 2001, etc.) paintings, done with gouache, ink, and watercolor, that carry the day, showing Skeleton’s own unique problems—water pours out of his hollow eyes when he drinks it upside down, his teeth spin out of his head when he brushes them—that make a joke of the circumstances. Oversized spreads open the scene to read-aloud audiences, but hold intimate details for sharp eyes—monster slippers, sugar streaming through the hollow body. For all the hiccupping, this outing has a quiet feel not up to the standards of some of Cuyler’s earlier books, but the right audience will enjoy its fun. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84770-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

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