ONE LIGHTHOUSE, ONE MOON

In three short chapters of just a few words each, Lobel demonstrates her artistry for choosing the right ingredients to create a perfect concept book around the life of a small gray-striped cat. “All Week Long,” the first story or chapter, presents not only the days of the week, but also colors, and in the process, accomplishes a fine assessment of one little girl's activities by focusing, cat’s-eye view, on her footwear. Tuesday's flashy red cowboy boots take her bike-riding, and Saturday’s demure pink toe shoes inspire Nini, the cat, to lift an elegant paw and so on. The second segment, “Nini's Year,” evokes much more about months than simply their names, even during March, when the howling winds Nini listens to wouldn't seem to give an ordinary artist much to go on visually. The surprise here is the Nini of December, who “waited for good things,” and proudly accepts her holiday gifts—three gray-striped kittens. The titular third story may seem a book-bulking appendage or a pretext for including number concepts, but it is also the necessary expansion of Nini's world, for she is a cat of the outdoors. Here her presence is diminished so that sometimes only a head peeps from the edges of white-framed illustrations depicting life around her home near a lighthouse. The book's culminating spread shows one moon smiling at a 100-starred cat constellation above a very tiny cat. There's neither a missing elementary concept nor a jarring fly in the ointment of this bewitching cat's charmed life. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: April 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-15539-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2000

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a...

SKY COLOR

Reynolds returns to a favorite topic—creative self-expression—with characteristic skill in a companion title to The Dot (2003) and Ish (2004).

Marisol is “an artist through and through. So when her teacher told her class they were going to paint a mural…, Marisol couldn’t wait to begin.” As each classmate claims a part of the picture to paint, Marisol declares she will “paint the sky.” But she soon discovers there is no blue paint and wonders what she will do without the vital color. Up to this point, the author uses color sparingly—to accent a poster or painting of Marisol’s or to highlight the paint jars on a desk. During her bus ride home, Marisol wonders what to do and stares out the window. The next spread reveals a vibrant departure from the gray tones of the previous pages. Reds, oranges, lemon yellows and golds streak across the sunset sky. Marisol notices the sky continuing to change in a rainbow of colors…except blue. After awakening from a colorful dream to a gray rainy day, Marisol smiles. With a fervent mixing of paints, she creates a beautiful swirling sky that she describes as “sky color.” Fans of Reynolds will enjoy the succinct language enhanced by illustrations in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache and tea.

Share this feel-good title with those who love art and those who can appreciate the confidence-building triumph of solving a problem on one’s own—creatively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-2345-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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