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


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

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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 book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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