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THE BOOK BOAT'S IN

Jesse’s pride of ownership and the closing scene of Jesse writing his name and the year in his very first book will resonate...

A pleasing historical tale about a boy willing to work hard for what he desires most—a book.

“One sunny day, Jesse King and his pa drove into town.” The year is 1835 in an agricultural area. Children will immediately notice colorful barges in the canal. The one that excites Jesse is Mr. Edwards’ book boat, which comes through occasionally. Inside, Jesse quickly spots a red book: his favorite, The Swiss Family Robinson. Jesse longs to own it, but Pa cannot afford it and suggests Jesse might earn the money. The text is laced with dialogue featuring homey turns of phrase, revealing Jesse’s passion for stories and capturing the warmth between the characters. Naïve folk-art–style paintings in bright gouache reflect Jesse’s hopeful, eager nature. Although simply rendered, the facial expressions speak volumes. Jesse cheerfully labors throughout the week at a store, a stable and more, illustrating what life was like in the 19th century. (An author’s note explains the history of floating libraries.) When the book boat comes back, Jesse finds the red book is gone, but Mr. Edwards has a solution.

Jesse’s pride of ownership and the closing scene of Jesse writing his name and the year in his very first book will resonate with book lovers of all ages . (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2521-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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HOME

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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