SUNNY BOY!

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A TORTOISE

A century in the keeping of one sedate owner after another leaves a small tortoise utterly unprepared for life with a reckless daredevil. In a captivating memoir, Sunny Boy fondly recalls quiet years with a gardener, a stamp collector and a Latin scholar—followed by a decidedly upsetting stint with Biff, an enthusiast who embarks on a string of failed stunts, then resolves to take a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel with, unfortunately, his trusty tortoise by his side. Telling the tale in an evocatively deliberate voice—“My world tipped. Now, instead of basking in the bright sunlight, I bounced and jostled about in Biff’s dank sidecar”—that brings out his character with the same clarity that the small, anxious-looking figure, cast into various perilous situations in Wilsdorf’s exuberantly drawn cartoons, does, Sunny Boy makes an engaging narrator indeed—particularly after the Niagara triumph actually leaves him with a taste for adventure, so long as it’s only occasional. Loosely based on a true episode that didn’t have such a happy ending (only the tortoise survived), this will delight both active and armchair daredevils. (afterword) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-37297-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more