CROCODILES, CAMELS, AND DUGOUT CANOES

EIGHT ADVENTUROUS EPISODES

Treacherous terrain and hostile environments were everyday fare for the 19th-century and early 20th-century global explorer-adventurers the husband-and-wife author and illustrator present in these pages. Life and limb were always at stake, but these gutsy, persevering men and women—among them Charles Waterton, Richard Burton, and Mary Kingsley—overcame fear, danger, and almost insurmountable obstacles to answer the call. August AndrÇe set out to be the first to travel across the North Pole in a balloon, Ernest Shackleford wanted to be the first to make an overland crossing of the Antarctic, and Annie Smith Peck was the third woman to climb the Matterhorn (and the first to make the climb in pants). Others, in the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, traveled “for travel’s sake”: Dervla Murphy wanted to see the world, while Antoine de Saint-ExupÇry wished to quench the “thirst to fly.” Running from three to five pages each, the vignettes offer snapshot-sized, near-death moments from the adventurers’ travels, then backpedal to include childhood events and other background. The same detailed pen-and-ink drawings that skillfully reveal perspectives in Munro’s Inside Outside books deftly capture the travels of these hardy souls, from the Arctic to the Sahara. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-525-45858-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1998

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

CORALINE

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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

FRINDLE

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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