Another captivating mix of eccentric visuals and gentle messages of unity by an author/illustrator who dances to her own...

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Music of an unexpected kind becomes the bridge to a new friendship in this picture book.

On top of Spike Mountain’s “squiggle rocks,” Red Song Thrusters produce toots, chirps, and hums across the “grass-tail fields” and the “berry-bush flats.” Far below, unaware of each other, reside two lonely creatures: Piper lives on the grassy side, telling wistful stories to “tail-seed dolls” she makes. Hubert, on the flatland side, eats berries and holds one-way conversations with goggle-eyed “Shroom” plants. Piper and Hubert find comfort in the Thrusters’ daytime concerts, but surely the low “honk, whoop” serenade in the evening means that “something is not right.” What can it be? Or are the Thrusters trying to send a different musical message? In her newest book for early readers, author/illustrator Helms (The Polygonsters, 2017, etc.) has again created a gently whimsical world where strange creatures are the conduit for expressions of friendship. Rendered on white pages in colored pencil and pen-and-ink, Helms’ flights of fancy include three-legged Piper, a catlike mix of geometric shapes with wheels for feet; speckled Hubert, with a “berry-snarfing” snout, long neck, and tubular extremities; and the vaguely birdlike Thrusters, who sing through protrusions resembling flattened trumpets. The characters, though rough-hewn and random, are relatable, and the vocabulary is entertaining and smart. The large black text, well-spaced on the page with some boxes and dialogue balloons, offers comfortable readability.

Another captivating mix of eccentric visuals and gentle messages of unity by an author/illustrator who dances to her own quirky tune.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9963397-4-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Set Free Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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