A clever, cheerful rhyming adventure that caregivers may want to combine with other, more diverse titles, such as Janay...

The Gnomes in the Trees


On his eighth birthday, a boy uses his math and writing skills to help a group of gnomes please their prince in Collyer’s debut children’s picture book.

Jacky Foster lives on a farm with his parents, sister, Josie, and dog, and they keep a garden-gnome statue on their porch. After Jacky’s birthday party, he’s relaxing when suddenly the gnome comes to life and asks him for help. Jacky doesn’t hesitate: he grabs his backpack and he and his dog, Sparky, head into the forest to assist the gnomes. The “younger” gnomes initially greet Jacky with distrust, but he soon learns their problem: the prince has commanded them to count and describe all the animals in the land of Gnomia, but none of the gnomes can write or count. Luckily, Jacky is up to the task (after the one female gnome makes a meal for all of them): he teaches the gnomes to use their fingers and toes to count. Once they’ve mastered that, they go to tally up the animals and Jacky records their descriptions. Not long afterward, Jacky suddenly appears back home, and although he vaguely wonders whether his adventure was all a dream, he finds a note by his porch chair thanking him for his help—and the garden-gnome statue disappears. Thankfully, Jacky points out the oddness of the note (after all, the gnomes can’t write), but he looks forward to further adventures. It’s nice that the boy’s skills at math, reading, writing, and teaching others save the day, and Collyer’s rhyming text scans beautifully (“My name’s Jacky Foster, I’m just a young lad. / I live on a farm with my mom and my dad”). Kinra’s mixed-media illustrations depict the little fellows very traditionally, closely sticking to the classic versions in Rien Poorvliet and Wil Huygen’s 1977 book Gnomes. The problem with this choice, though, is that it leaves little room for diversity; the gnomes here are all, save for one, white-skinned and white-bearded, and only one little-seen female gnome is included.

A clever, cheerful rhyming adventure that caregivers may want to combine with other, more diverse titles, such as Janay Brown-Wood’s Imani’s Moon (2014) or Ashley Bryan’s Can’t Scare Me (2013).

Pub Date: May 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9973303-0-4

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Inspirion2

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

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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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Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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