THE MAGICAL, MYSTICAL, MARVELOUS COAT

Joseph may have Had a Little Overcoat (1999) and another Joseph a “coat of many colors,” but neither sported outerwear like the outsized garment with magic buttons that swirls and flows about this generous youngster’s skinny ankles. On her dancing way she encounters a frozen swan and a giant who’s wilting under the hot sun, a small elf who needs somebody to love, three rabbits menaced by a snake, a ship in a storm—and look, there’s a button to remedy each ill. Nor does she hesitate to give them away, though to her parents’ dismay it leaves her (seemingly) buttonless. To Cullen’s rollicking dactyls Christiana matches splashy, spacious scenes rendered in bright, transparent colors, changing point of view on nearly every spread until the triumphant conclusion, in which the child finds the missing buttons in her pocket, and everyone she’s helped appears at the door to help her sing the adventure out. “It’s fashion, it’s couture, it’s high, and it’s haute, / That megacooliferous, / truly meltificent . . . mostly just marvelous coat!” A showstopping, imagination-stretching debut for Cullen, visually on par with Christiana’s previous extravaganza, Nancy Willard’s The Tale I Told Sasha (1999). (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-316-16334-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary...

MARY POPPINS

Refined, spit-spot–tidy illustrations infuse a spare adaptation of the 1934 classic with proper senses of decorum and wonder.

Novesky leaves out much—the Bird Woman, Adm. Boom, that ethnically problematic world tour, even Mr. and Mrs. Banks—but there’s still plenty going on. Mary Poppins introduces Jane and Michael (their twin younger sibs are mentioned but seem to be left at home throughout) to the Match-Man and the buoyant Mr. Wigg, lets them watch Mrs. Corry and her daughters climb tall ladders to spangle the night sky with gilt stars, and takes them to meet the zoo animals (“Bird and beast, star and stone—we are all one,” says the philosophical bear). At last, when the wind changes, she leaves them with an “Au revoir!” (“Which means, Dear Reader, ‘to meet again.’ ”) Slender and correct, though with dangling forelocks that echo and suggest the sweeping curls of wind that bring her in and carry her away, Mary Poppins takes the role of impresario in Godbout’s theatrically composed scenes, bearing an enigmatic smile throughout but sharing with Jane and Michael (and even the parrot-headed umbrella) an expression of wide-eyed, alert interest as she shepherds them from one marvelous encounter to the next. The Corrys have brown skin; the rest of the cast presents white.

Lovely and evocative, just the thing to spark an interest in the original and its sequels—and the upcoming film sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, which opens in December 2018. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-91677-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A timely addition considering that interest in sending new probes—and people—to the red planet is ramping up.

GOOD NIGHT, OPPY!

A valedictory tip of the hat to the Opportunity rover, an “Interplanetary Detective” that far outlasted its original mission and also found telling evidence of water on Mars.

As has become usual for picture-book tributes to Mars rovers “Oppy” gets anthropomorphic features and feelings as well as feminine pronouns. Nevertheless, strenuous efforts to spare readers any confusion begin on the title page with a cautionary note about “fictionalized” content and finish off with a lengthy afterword that includes actual photos. In between, most of the light but specific informational payload is set apart from the narrative and printed in a different weight type. Having itself been finished off by a dust storm in 2018, Opportunity has since been buried beneath salutes to the currently active Curiosity. Still, as it operated for a record 14 ½ years, it does merit remembrance for longevity as well as a successful mission…and perhaps also for the five weeks it spent stuck in “Purgatory,” a sandy ripple that inspired doubtless frustrated scientists back on Earth to dub all such traps purgatoids henceforth. Slipping in the odd magnifying glass or deerstalker hat, Carter sets the wide-eyed wanderer wheeling over pink but challengingly craggy Mars-scapes. In one of the two scenes set on Earth, Oppy’s human crew includes both brown- and pale-skinned figures, one of the latter in a wheelchair. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A timely addition considering that interest in sending new probes—and people—to the red planet is ramping up. (source list) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63592-319-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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