PONY ISLAND

Misty of Chincoteague in rhyme. By now everyone knows the story of the wild Chincoteague ponies—the probably apocryphal shipwreck, the round-up each year, the auction. If not, certainly there are plenty of other available books about it (titles of which are helpfully supplied in a bibliography at the end). Ransom tells the story in staccato stanzas (“Empty island. / Room to roam. / Birds and beaches. / Brand-new home”) that scan well, but the clipped phrases don’t fully engage the audience. Likewise, Zahares’s wild, broad-stroked, bold-colored pastels are visually interesting but don’t allow either the ponies or the people to emerge as distinct characters. The shifting perspectives and striking compositions make each full-bleed, double-page spread an adventure in abstraction, the ponies and landscape figuring more as shapes and colors than as parts of a narrative. It’s arresting, but somehow ultimately fails to connect. Fine as an addition to large collections, but not as the sole book about Chincoteague. (author’s note, resources) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8027-8088-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2009

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MY LUCKY DAY

It’s become predictable, this story of the pig outfoxing the fox, but Kasza’s version does sport his lively art and a measure of dry humor. When a piglet comes knocking on Mr. Fox’s door, the fox can’t believe his luck; he’s not used to delivery service. The piglet is just about to be tucked in the oven, when he suggests a few improvements to Mr. Fox. Wouldn’t he taste better if he were washed first—“Just a thought, Mr. Fox”—and plumped up and perhaps massaged to tenderize the meat? The fox agrees that he would, rushing madly about scrubbing, feeding, and working the piglet’s tissues, and promptly falling into an exhausted swoon. The pig is last seen back in his pen, thumbing through his address book—Mr. Bear, Mr. Wolf, Mr. Coyote—getting ready to work the same ruse on another carnivore. Fun enough, though no self-respecting four-year-old will be very worried about this little porker’s fate. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23874-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2003

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CHATO'S KITCHEN

Chato and Novio Boy, low-riding East Los Angeles homeboys of the feline variety, have dinner guests. The invitees, a family of five fat mice who just moved in next door, haven't an inkling that they are the intended main course. But when the mice bring along their friend Chorizo (a worldly mutt in a slouch beret) to share the grub, he thwarts the cats' connivings. This unlikely three- species chow-down is a sweet salute to Spanish cooking, with fajitas, frijoles, and quesadillas sharing center stage. Soto delivers a spare, clever text; the words skip like stones across water—``His tail began to swing to the rhythm. He felt the twinge of mambo in his hips.'' Guevara's swarming, luxuriant illustrations give the atmosphere palpability, with brushstrokes so fresh readers will want to stick their fingers in the paint to feel its texture. Menace hangs in the air; the artist mixes the sinisterness of R. Crumb with moments of Edvard Munch terror, yet it seems likely from the outset that the mice are more than capable of looking after themselves. Incidental touches—little devils and angels darting about, a bird wedding glimpsed through a window—are there for the sharp-eyed. Smart, with a nice edge. Soto's inspired finger-snapping prose has found an equally imaginative comrade in Guevara's colorful urban paintings. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 22, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-22658-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1995

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