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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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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