A difficult but rewarding debut.

THE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE THING

A bunny sees a bird—and a seemingly silly notion takes hold, stubbornly survives setbacks, and pushes and pulls its way into something real.

The illustrations, made from block prints and a simply inked animal cast that features rabbits with long, propellerlike ears, add the plotline to Agaoglu’s terse and abstract narrative: “Once upon a time there was a dream, / a dream that tried to take shape.” Said dream begins as a sketch-filled wall and chalkboard and continues through failed experiments involving a trampoline and other aids. After being put away in a “tiny box” but being “too alive to sit in one place,” the dream culminates at last in a multibunny construct that “flew into the light. And sparkled with every color that people could see. / And even a few that they couldn’t.” That final line isn’t the only one that will leave readers scratching their heads. Still, in contrast to such stories as Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do with an Idea? (illustrated by Mae Besom, 2014) that offer more concrete—and therefore, perhaps, limiting—visualizations of what a dream looks like, the allusive language and imagery here open the concept to more universal possibilities. Even if the text is hard to pin down, the images offer much to consider and chuckle at, from bunnies on ski jumps and with hang gliders to the final, improbable result.

A difficult but rewarding debut. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54827-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to...

ESCAPE FROM BAXTERS' BARN

A group of talking farm animals catches wind of the farm owner’s intention to burn the barn (with them in it) for insurance money and hatches a plan to flee.

Bond begins briskly—within the first 10 pages, barn cat Burdock has overheard Dewey Baxter’s nefarious plan, and by Page 17, all of the farm animals have been introduced and Burdock is sharing the terrifying news. Grady, Dewey’s (ever-so-slightly) more principled brother, refuses to go along, but instead of standing his ground, he simply disappears. This leaves the animals to fend for themselves. They do so by relying on their individual strengths and one another. Their talents and personalities match their species, bringing an element of realism to balance the fantasy elements. However, nothing can truly compensate for the bland horror of the premise. Not the growing sense of family among the animals, the serendipitous intervention of an unknown inhabitant of the barn, nor the convenient discovery of an alternate home. Meanwhile, Bond’s black-and-white drawings, justly compared to those of Garth Williams, amplify the sense of dissonance. Charming vignettes and single- and double-page illustrations create a pastoral world into which the threat of large-scale violence comes as a shock.

Ironically, by choosing such a dramatic catalyst, the author weakens the adventure’s impact overall and leaves readers to ponder the awkward coincidences that propel the plot. (Animal fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-33217-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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