THE ROSE IN MY GARDEN

A horticultural House That Jack Built—with the infectiousness of a nursery rhyme, an abundance of child-wise visual detail, a rousing return-to-square-one climax. The first stanza is picture-book genius: "This is the rose in my garden/ This is the bee/ That sleeps on the rose in my garden." There is the garden, flora and fauna; there, in abeyance, is "the plot"—for what sleeps must awaken. Successively, other flowers join the rose: "Hollyhocks high above ground," "marigolds orange and round," "zinnias straight in a row," "daisies white as the snow"—and, lastly, "tulips sturdy and tall," "sunflowers tallest of all." (Gardeners will regret—but mostly forgive—seeing spring tulips alongside summer's-end sunflowers.) Meanwhile one or another garden denizen—snail, butterfly, beetle, hummingbird, ladybug, ant—makes its way (often, from literally outside the picture) into the scene, to go about its customary business unnoted except by any and every child. Then, a disruption: "This is the fieldmouse shaking in fear"—who'll be chased by "the cat with the tattered ear," tearing through the flower-border, waking the bee. . . who (wordlessly) stings the cat, leaving "the rose in my garden." An old English floral design, in effect, come to exuberant life.

Pub Date: April 18, 1984

ISBN: 0688122655

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1984

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For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy.

COZY

An agreeable Alaskan musk ox embodies that old Ben Franklin adage, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

When Cozy the ox is separated from his herd in the midst of a winter storm, he decides to wait it out. His massive size and warmth attract small animals—a lemming family and a snowshoe hare—desperate to escape the cold. However, as bigger, predatory creatures arrive, Cozy must lay down some “house rules” that grow with each new creature that arrives until they extend to: “Quiet voices, gentle thumping, claws to yourself, no biting, no pouncing, and be mindful of others!” Over time, the guests grow antsy, but at last spring arrives and Cozy can find his family. The tale is not dissimilar to another Jan Brett tale of cold weather and animals squeezing into a small space (The Mitten, 1989). Meticulous watercolors refrain from anthropomorphizing, rendering everyone, from massive Cozy to the tiniest of lemmings, in exquisite detail. This moving tale of gentle kindness serves as a clarion call for anyone searching for a book about creating your own community in times of trial. Brett even includes little details about real musk oxen in the text (such as their tendency to form protective circles to surround their vulnerable young), but readers hoping for further information in any backmatter will be disappointed. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.4-by-20.6-inch double-page spreads viewed at 37.3% of actual size.)

For readers who haven’t a musk ox of their own to snuggle up with, this tale proves just as cozy. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10979-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Moving and poetic.

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PAX

A motherless boy is forced to abandon his domesticated fox when his father decides to join soldiers in an approaching war.

Twelve-year-old Peter found his loyal companion, Pax, as an orphaned kit while still grieving his own mother’s death. Peter’s difficult and often harsh father said he could keep the fox “for now” but five years later insists the boy leave Pax by the road when he takes Peter to his grandfather’s house, hundreds of miles away. Peter’s journey back to Pax and Pax’s steadfastness in waiting for Peter’s return result in a tale of survival, intrinsic connection, and redemption. The battles between warring humans in the unnamed conflict remain remote, but the oncoming wave of deaths is seen through Pax’s eyes as woodland creatures are blown up by mines. While Pax learns to negotiate the complications of surviving in the wild and relating to other foxes, Peter breaks his foot and must learn to trust a seemingly eccentric woman named Vola who battles her own ghosts of war. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of boy and fox are perfectly paced and complementary. Only Peter, Pax, Vola, and three of Pax’s fox companions are named, conferring a spare, fablelike quality. Every moment in the graceful, fluid narrative is believable. Klassen’s cover art has a sense of contained, powerful stillness. (Interior illustrations not seen.)

Moving and poetic. (Animal fantasy. 9-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237701-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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