An enthusiastic but uneven tale, with a greater focus on good behavior than candy-cane forests.

MEET THE POPS

Candyland meets Barney & Friends in this debut picture book about a loving family living on a farm.

The Pops are much like any other family except that they grow wild-cherry lollipops in their orchard and have chickens that lay marshmallows on their farm. Barbieri takes the reader through Soda and Coco Pop’s first day at school, with the supportive presence of their parents, Lolly and Cherry. Despite the Candyland-esque theme, sweets don’t play a large role in the story. Through seven “text messages” interspersed in the book, young readers are invited to learn the meanings of words like “adopted,” “harvest,” and “unique,” which are connected to such positive commands as “Be considerate!” “Be happy!” and “Be smart!” These lessons about appropriate behavior deliver an important message. But they are not always directly linked to the story and at times feel forced and out of place. Likewise, the stock illustrations, though clean and colorful with a diverse human cast, are mostly plain and sparse in detail, failing to convey the fantastical nature of the farm. The book veers from depicting each scene word for word with split panels to leaving much of the scenery and action to the imagination. And though Soda is shaped like a bottle of soda and Cherry spreads rainbow jam on a slice of bread, the Pops’ world is almost too ordinary.

An enthusiastic but uneven tale, with a greater focus on good behavior than candy-cane forests.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4808-5019-4

Page Count: 21

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2018

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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