A stunning work of creative genius sure to captivate the young and lend pure delight to beachcombers of any age.

ASHLEY BRYAN'S PUPPETS

MAKING SOMETHING FROM EVERYTHING

A riveting collection of puppets made from found objects at the seashore.

Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement winner Bryan here presents the uncanny fruit of over 50 years of artistry and beachcombing. A child of the Depression, Bryan early on developed a penchant for collecting cast-off items from New York City sidewalks. As an adult, when walking the shores of Maine’s Little Cranberry Island, he does the same, now turning much of his seaside bounty into the more than 30 hand puppets captured here in exquisite detail by photographer Hannon. Not only do shells, sea glass and driftwood find new life in Bryan’s African folklore–inspired creations, but bits of net, marbles, thumbtacks, gloves, twine, all kinds of bones, watchbands, forks, fur and a bedpost—not to mention the occasional button—and more amazingly transform into appendages and accessories. As if his wildly fashioned creatures don’t have enough character, Bryan gives each of his puppets a name and poem describing both what it’s made from and its vision. Says the shamanlike Spirit Guardian: “We are born of cast-off pieces / And, like magic, brought alive / By your own imagination. / That’s the gift / By which we thrive.”

A stunning work of creative genius sure to captivate the young and lend pure delight to beachcombers of any age. (Picture book/poetry. 4 & up)

Pub Date: July 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-8728-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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