An unusual, artfully rendered story that will appeal to children as well as adults.

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WHEN COMES WHAT DARKLY THIEVES

A dark, dreamy tale illustrated with rich, textured collages.

Told in the second person, this fictional picture book uses surreal imagery and poetic language to weave an unusual story of subconscious desires and wishes. “Imagine this, you have always been afraid of gypsies, and for good reasons too,” the story begins, explaining that gypsies carry children away in sacks and take them away from their homes and loved ones. As the story unfolds, Zinganas, the blind king of gypsies, shows up at your door and finds you despite your pitiful attempts to hide. The king tricks you with the false promise of “what you wanted most,” then disappears in the night with the moonbeams from your eyes, leaving you alone to find your way back to them. The book is illustrated with multicolored collages, assembled from pieces of photographs, colors and images that often appear as though they were cut from tissue or textured paper. The illustrations, which vaguely resemble Cubist paintings in their blocklike forms, are easily the book’s most striking feature. An image of Zinganas depicts two crowned figures constructed from fragments of photographed faces, jagged edges and textured blocks of color. Above the scenario hovers a single, closed eye, referencing Zinganas’ blindness, or perhaps the subconscious fears he evokes. In contrast, images depicting the main character appear ambiguous, either showing a blank, simplistic face or avoiding showing it entirely, as such illustrations stand in for any reader who encounters the book. The fragmented images work well with the strange narrative and add an eerie, nightmarish element to the story. The book closes with a gorgeously textured image of children swinging across a crimson background, ending on a mysterious note that will leave readers wondering what happens next.

An unusual, artfully rendered story that will appeal to children as well as adults.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983826705

Page Count: 19

Publisher: Button-down Bird

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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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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THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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