A gorgeous, mysterious, and enchanting introduction to the circle of life.

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CLEVER CYBÈLE

THE STORY OF AN APRICOT

In this illustrated children’s book, a magical apricot falls to the ground and enchants a group of snails.

In an orchard, an ancient tree bears only a single fruit. This apricot falls to the ground, where no one notices it except some snails out for an excursion. They don’t know what this sphere on the ground is, but it’s so gorgeous that they can’t seem to forget about it. Is it a glass globe? A piece of the sun? A fruit from heaven? The oldest and wisest snail confirms this last guess: “It’s a golden apricot, with a thin and honeyed skin, flesh that’s sweet—a heavenly fruit to eat!” But as the snails gather round, the apricot implores them to leave her untouched. “Ordinary I am not,” she explains. “For I am Cybèle! A glorious apricot!” She tells them about the magic seed at her center and asks them to protect the place where she lies as a sanctuary. Night after night, they gather around her, chanting her praises. But one day, she’s nowhere to be found. The next spring, though, the snails discover a small sapling in the orchard, growing from a kind of stone. It’s Cybèle, minus her skin, and one day she’ll grow into a tree, she explains, and the snails rejoice. First-time author and illustrator Glenn, a former flower arranger at the famous Chez Panisse restaurant in California, paints her images in delicate, lovely washes of color. Cybèle glows in shades of gold and peach, and the snails are equally beautiful, rendered with attention to the details of their shells and spotted bodies. Although actual snails may seem to be inexpressive creatures, Glenn gives hers life and personality. When they search for Cybèle, for instance, their necks and tentacles stretch to look around, and one snail peers inquisitively underneath a mushroom cap; readers can feel their urgency. Overall, the book has a sense of strangeness and mystery, underscored by subtle rhymes in dialogue and the snails’ adoring chants: “Slip and slide; weave a spell. / Shimmer, shimmer, our Cybèle.” Some vocabulary words may challenge young readers, such as “nocturnal,” “perplexed,” “succulent,” and “scruples.”

A gorgeous, mysterious, and enchanting introduction to the circle of life.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-0-692-74821-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: Apologue Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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