A COWBOY CHRISTMAS

THE MIRACLE AT LONE PINE RIDGE

This longer Christmas story is set in the old West on the small ranch of a widow named Della and her son, Evan. On Christmas Eve, they are waiting for the annual arrival of their storytelling cowboy friend, Cully, who collapses from illness and falls from his horse into the snow on a ridge overlooking the ranch. A bright shooting star leads Evan and his mother to Cully, who is successfully rescued and nursed back to health. Walking with Evan’s ma and some quality time with the family make it clear that the cowboy has changed and sure enough, he decides to quit the trail. It’s Evan who talks him out of moving to Mexico and points the way to marrying his ma and staying right there. While the plot is melodramatic and somewhat predictable, Woods tells the tale with a sure hand, just as Cully recounts his cowboy adventures to Della and Evan in front of the fireplace. Florczak’s (The Magic Fishbone, not reviewed, etc.) sumptuous full-page paintings add greatly to the overall effect, with varying perspectives and clever use of shadows. (One memorable illustration shows three shocked cowboys interrupted at their dinner of beans and coffee with the looming shadow of a bear falling across the page.) This super-sized volume has a thoughtful design with the text printed on ivory paper with a narrow rust border, adding an old-fashioned touch to a story that will be popular wherever young cowboys hang their hats. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82190-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

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THE LEMONADE WAR

From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking.

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EYES THAT KISS IN THE CORNERS

A young Chinese American girl sees more than the shape of her eyes.

In this circular tale, the unnamed narrator observes that some peers have “eyes like sapphire lagoons / with lashes like lace trim on ballgowns,” but her eyes are different. She “has eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea.” Author Ho’s lyrical narrative goes on to reveal how the girl’s eyes are like those of other women and girls in her family, expounding on how each pair of eyes looks and what they convey. Mama’s “eyes sparkl[e] like starlight,” telling the narrator, “I’m a miracle. / In those moments when she’s all mine.” Mama’s eyes, the girl observes, take after Amah’s. While she notes that her grandmother’s eyes “don’t work like they used to,” they are able to see “all the way into my heart” and tell her stories. Here, illustrator Ho’s spreads bloom with references to Chinese stories and landscapes. Amah’s eyes are like those of the narrator’s little sister. Mei-Mei’s eyes are filled with hope and with admiration for her sister. Illustrator Ho’s textured cartoons and clever use of light and shadow exude warmth and whimsy that match the evocative text. When the narrator comes to describe her own eyes and acknowledges the power they hold, she is posed against swirling patterns, figures, and swaths of breathtaking landscapes from Chinese culture. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-18-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80.5% of actual size.)

This tale of self-acceptance and respect for one’s roots is breathtaking. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-291562-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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