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A BLUE BUTTERFLY

A STORY ABOUT CLAUDE MONET

Le Tord (Peace on Earth, 1992, etc.) tries to recreate the mood of the French painter's work and is only partially successfulher pastels capture the airy impressionism of Monet's flowers and water gardens but cannot so skillfully abstract objects into color and light using a minimum number of brush strokes. There are none of the dark, sharp-edged colors of the artist's palette, nor are there reproductions of Monet's work to help readers understand to what Le Tord is making reference. What is left is something of a homage in an ephemeral, poetic text. While matching the mood of the illustrations (``Claude Monet painted flowers like tiny jewels''), this book isn't nearly as helpful as Richard Muhlberger's What Makes a Monet? (1993). That title, for older readers, includes biographical material, reproductions, and analysis. Monet (1990), by Mike Venzia, addressing the same age audience as Le Tord's work, is even more informative, despite the distraction of some cartoony illustrations. Le Tord's volume will be useful to young readers mainly as adjunct to viewing Monet's work in a book or museum; only then will readers appreciate Le Tord and Monet's painting challenge. (Picture book. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-385-31102-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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FRINDLE

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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CORALINE

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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