In a simple retelling of a Tibetan parable, two travelers journey across Tibet to Lhasa: one in haste on horseback and the other slowly plodding on foot accompanied by his yak. On the way, each traveler asks an old woman, “How far is it to Lhasa?”—and each time the old woman replies, “Very far.” The rider is told that he’ll never make it before night and the boy on foot is assured that he will reach Lhasa by nightfall, and he does, whereas the rider on horseback falls and fails. Berger’s (Angels on a Pin, 2000, etc.) familiar dreamlike style and characters are a likely pairing in creating a mystical atmosphere. The striking maroon borders frame and contrast the heavenly setting, echoing the color of the old woman’s robe. Double-spread acrylic, colored pencil, and gouache clouds, rushing torrents of water, and snow-covered mountains fill up and spill out from one page to the next. The landscape, the architecture, and inclusion of the flowers, prayer flags, stones with carved prayers, and Chupa (the traditional coat worn by the traveler on horseback) define place and culture. With otherwise such attention to detail, it is curious that the old woman is clothed in a manner (shawl over the shoulder) usually exclusive to ordained monks and male teachers, not lay people. Faintly reminiscent of the Tortoise and the Hare fable, the lack of interaction among the participants creates a sense of remoteness that is less than compelling, though it does reinforce the theme of a personal quest. Quietly inspiring. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-23387-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996


Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

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. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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