Read aloud or explored independently, this original fairy tale will whet the appetite for more Swedish imports.

THE STONE GIANT

A timely fairy-tale adventure about one child’s quest to defeat a giant.

On a tiny island, a child and her knight father live in isolation. Then the knight leaves to fight a dangerous giant terrorizing the land by turning people into stone. Days pass, but the knight never returns. Finally, the girl embarks on her own journey to save her father with nothing more than a red dress, knife, mirror, and umbrella. Höglund, a contemporary Swedish children’s-book creator, points to a story by legendary author/illustrator Elsa Beskow as this book’s inspiration. Translated from Swedish, the third-person text, always printed on verso and surrounded by generous white space, is brief yet specific, prompting ponderous pauses throughout. True to fairy-tale tradition, everyday objects possess the key to salvation. However, in a contemporary twist, it is not an adult or knight in shining armor but the child who does the rescuing, not through beauty or kindness but with fortitude and determination. With the exception of a few double-page spreads, illustrations appear opposite text on recto. Employing precise copper-plate etching overlaid with nearly monochromatic watercolor washes, they create a desolate, shadowy world. This constant feeling of danger underscores the girl’s worry and subsequent bravery in the face of the unknown. The cloth binding and stamped lettering make this small, rectangular volume feel special.

Read aloud or explored independently, this original fairy tale will whet the appetite for more Swedish imports. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-776572-73-1

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST

Echoing the meter of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” Ward uses catchy original rhymes to describe the variety of nests birds create.

Each sweet stanza is complemented by a factual, engaging description of the nesting habits of each bird. Some of the notes are intriguing, such as the fact that the hummingbird uses flexible spider web to construct its cup-shaped nest so the nest will stretch as the chicks grow. An especially endearing nesting behavior is that of the emperor penguin, who, with unbelievable patience, incubates the egg between his tummy and his feet for up to 60 days. The author clearly feels a mission to impart her extensive knowledge of birds and bird behavior to the very young, and she’s found an appealing and attractive way to accomplish this. The simple rhymes on the left page of each spread, written from the young bird’s perspective, will appeal to younger children, and the notes on the right-hand page of each spread provide more complex factual information that will help parents answer further questions and satisfy the curiosity of older children. Jenkins’ accomplished collage illustrations of common bird species—woodpecker, hummingbird, cowbird, emperor penguin, eagle, owl, wren—as well as exotics, such as flamingoes and hornbills, are characteristically naturalistic and accurate in detail.

A good bet for the youngest bird-watchers.   (author’s note, further resources) (Informational picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2116-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more