MAGIC BEACH

Issued with revisions in 1965 as Castles in the Sand, with early 60s-ish illustrations by Betty Fraser, this philosophical tale appears here in its original form, beneath Johnson’s own rough, expressive sketches—sandwiched between an eloquent appreciation of both author and art by Maurice Sendak, and a publishing history by renowned scholar Philip Nel. Two children, arguing on a beach about whether it’s better to read stories or to be in one, discover that writing “JAM,” “BREAD,” “CANDY” and similar words in the sand brings those very objects ashore with the next wave. Eventually they conjure a “KING” who commands them to leave, just as the waves wash away everything but a large seashell. Off the youngsters go, still holding different views. According to Nel, Johnson’s editor Ursula Nordstrom didn’t think this was a story for children. As in so much else, she was right—but it does make a handsomely packaged artifact for adult readers of children’s literature. (Picture book. Adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 30, 2005

ISBN: 1-932425-27-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2005

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

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

ABIYOYO RETURNS

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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