A wonderfully illustrated, not-too-serious story that may make children eager to visit a mouse town and try taffy hairstyles.

NALAH GOES TO MAD MOUSE CITY

A mischievous young girl visits a mouse city and invites all its residents to a picnic in this boldly illustrated tale by Sawyer-Aitch (Nalah and the Pink Tiger, 2013).

Nalah is in a foul mood on the day of a family picnic. All her imaginary friends, who were introduced in her previous picture book, have gone on adventures without her. Bored and left to her own devices, she makes just enough mischief to get sent to her room. Luckily, Mad Tooth Mouse, who eats socks from Nalah’s sock drawer, shows up to listen to her complaints. With a little bit of magic, Mad Tooth shrinks Nalah down so that she can visit Mad Mouse City, and there, she discovers that she’s a hero. After an impromptu celebration and dance party, she invites the mice back to her family’s picnic. Now normal-sized, Nalah convinces all her siblings and cousins—a wonderfully multihued group—to make taffy for their mice guests. Soon, more mischief ensues when the children and mice must eat their way out of a taffy explosion. Although the story isn’t terribly linear—there’s no real explanation, for example, of why making taffy is suddenly the thing to do—it’s so much fun that it doesn’t really matter. Children will giggle at Nalah’s antics, and they’ll be engrossed by the brightly colored, chaotic images. Sawyer-Aitch uses a technique she calls “illuminated illustration,” based on her own shadow-puppet work, which results in abstract, textured background images with details that will have young readers poring over the pages again and again. The text is placed among the illustrations, and although the format may make the words difficult for newly independent readers to pick out, the work is worth it, if only to read about the “jewel-black eyes” of the mice and the promise of a picnic with “hot dogs and Pho.”

A wonderfully illustrated, not-too-serious story that may make children eager to visit a mouse town and try taffy hairstyles.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692342954

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Magic Lantern Press

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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