A delicate, unnerving meditation.

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STORY

A girl flies through the night sky to bring her dead brother back to life.

“Who is that running in the middle of the night? / Oh, it’s Vera.” Vera steps out a window, eyes closed, into the snow. She glides forward, airborne, ethereal in her “light and billowy” nightgown. Her long hair flows out behind her, ensnaring a boy in pajamas from a tree branch. His eyes, like Vera’s, are closed. Vera’s hair, still flowing behind her, cradles and carries him as they fly through landscapes of folklore and ghouls. Torseter’s fine-lined drawings are loose-handed, minimalist, and eerie. Tree roots in underground caves reach out; skeletons nestle; trees wail. Readers learn, obliquely, that this is a ritual that is reenacted repeatedly. When Vera and the boy, Salander, reach the lake this time, a huge woman rises out of the water, and Vera asks her to “tell…the most beautiful story.…The one where there is so much pain, but everything is fine in the end.” Telling it, the woman brings Salander back to life. Vera can hear his heart now, and as she carries him home in her arms, “she feels his warm breath on her cheek.” His eyes never open, though, and he looks just as asleep as he’s looked all along. Readers learn almost nothing about how Salander died, only that he did die and that Vera pines for him to have been saved. Title notwithstanding, Tjønn’s piece about processing grief is mournful, closureless, and unsettling—like fresh bereavement itself. Characters have straight hair and skin the white of the page.

A delicate, unnerving meditation. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-59270-350-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development.

DOUBLE PUPPY TROUBLE

From the McKellar Math series

A child who insists on having MORE of everything gets MORE than she can handle.

Demanding young Moxie Jo is delighted to discover that pushing the button on a stick she finds in the yard doubles anything she points to. Unfortunately, when she points to her puppy, Max, the button gets stuck—and in no time one dog has become two, then four, then eight, then….Readers familiar with the “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” or Tomie dePaola’s Strega Nona will know how this is going to go, and Masse obliges by filling up succeeding scenes with burgeoning hordes of cute yellow puppies enthusiastically making a shambles of the house. McKellar puts an arithmetical spin on the crisis—“The number of pups exponentially grew: / They each multiplied times a factor of 2!” When clumsy little brother Clark inadvertently intervenes, Moxie Jo is left wiser about her real needs (mostly). An appended section uses lemons to show how exponential doubling quickly leads to really big numbers. Stuart J. Murphy’s Double the Ducks (illustrated by Valeria Petrone, 2002) in the MathStart series explores doubling from a broader perspective and includes more backmatter to encourage further study, but this outing adds some messaging: Moxie Jo’s change of perspective may give children with sharing issues food for thought. She and her family are White; her friends are racially diverse. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Doubles down on a basic math concept with a bit of character development. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-101-93386-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted...

CLAYMATES

Reinvention is the name of the game for two blobs of clay.

A blue-eyed gray blob and a brown-eyed brown blob sit side by side, unsure as to what’s going to happen next. The gray anticipates an adventure, while the brown appears apprehensive. A pair of hands descends, and soon, amid a flurry of squishing and prodding and poking and sculpting, a handsome gray wolf and a stately brown owl emerge. The hands disappear, leaving the friends to their own devices. The owl is pleased, but the wolf convinces it that the best is yet to come. An ear pulled here and an extra eye placed there, and before you can shake a carving stick, a spurt of frenetic self-exploration—expressed as a tangled black scribble—reveals a succession of smug hybrid beasts. After all, the opportunity to become a “pig-e-phant” doesn’t come around every day. But the sound of approaching footsteps panics the pair of Picassos. How are they going to “fix [them]selves” on time? Soon a hippopotamus and peacock are staring bug-eyed at a returning pair of astonished hands. The creative naiveté of the “clay mates” is perfectly captured by Petty’s feisty, spot-on dialogue: “This was your idea…and it was a BAD one.” Eldridge’s endearing sculpted images are photographed against the stark white background of an artist’s work table to great effect.

The dynamic interaction between the characters invites readers to take risks, push boundaries, and have a little unscripted fun of their own . (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-316-30311-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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