HOLY MOLÉ!

Incorporating details from Mexican legends, McAlister offers a version of a story that explains how molé, a blend of chocolate, chili peppers and spices usually served on turkey, was created. The tasty dish was probably eaten in Aztec times, but several tales connect its origins to religious brothers or sisters preparing food fit to serve a Spanish viceroy. In this version, the friars scurry around, chopping chilies, cutting chocolate and grinding cinnamon. Carlos, a fictional hungry kitchen boy, tries to grab a falling bun and trips the legendary character, Brother Pascual, as he carries the ingredients for many different sauces and desserts. The unlikely combination of chocolate and savory spices falls into the turkey pot, and the rest is culinary history. The funny, economically told story would be easy for children to retell or dramatize, but Czernecki, who usually does a fine job illustrating folktales, depicts Carlos as a cartoon-like character with a tiny sombrero perched on his head. While stylistically in keeping with the brothers, the bishop and the viceroy, all rendered in bold simple shapes on bright white backgrounds, Carlos looks like a throwback to the touristy images of Mexican peasants of earlier decades—what a shame! (author’s note with sources) (Picture book/folktale. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-87483-775-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: August House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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