Inspired by a Kafir folk tale published in an 1895 collection, Caldecott Honor winner Steptoe has reset the classic Cinderella pattern in an ancient Zimbabwe city. Mufaro has two beautiful daughters. Bad-tempered Manyara taunts Nyasha behind Mufaro's back; Nyasha is saddened by her sister's anger, but goes on about her business of tending a garden, singing even more sweetly when the pretty little snake, Nyoka, is there. When the Great King sends for candidates to be his wife, Manyara sets off first, thrice turning down requests for help on her way. But on her journey, Nyasha, as is her wont, offers assistance whenever it's needed and so passes the tests, arriving to find Nyoka, who like the wayside supplicants, turns out to be the king in another form. Joyfully, they are married; Manyara becomes Nyasha's servant. Steptoe has chosen a tone of nobility and the pristine glories of an unspoiled world for his illustrations for this universal story. Meticulous crosshatching defines his sculptural forms; rich, darkly luminous colors convey Africa's visual excitement; yet his carefully realistic treatment will help make the story immediate and accessible to unsophisticated readers as well as to those who appreciate his subtlety. (Note: Because of tight side-sewing, the full sweep of these generous double spreads is interrupted even in the trade edition.) A beautiful book, deserving a permanent place in library collections.

Pub Date: March 31, 1987

ISBN: 0688040454

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1987


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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