HUMPTY DUMPTY

In this happy-ending remake of the nursery rhyme, a boy king gets over his shyness by doing himself what all his horses and men couldn't. Having put his fragile shell in danger several times to watch a parade, Humpty pays the price at last with a shattering tumble into the king's carriage. Reassembled with a few Band-Aids, Humpty recovers so quickly that not even a crack is visible by the next page. There another kind of bonding ensues as Humpty praises the king for being thoughtful and patient (readers may wonder why, since he doesn't display either trait), and the king admires his ovoid new friend's courage, which looks more like recklessness from here. The cut-out photos of faces and other details tucked into Kirk's (Moondogs, 1999, etc.) tidy, smooth-surfaced paintings will prompt double takes from viewers, and some chuckles, but the trite plot and long, monotonously rhymed text will get a polite reception at best. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23332-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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This retro salute to friendship simply tries to be too much to be successful—it does not hold a candle to McGhee's prior...

MAKING A FRIEND

The early-children’s-book feel of Rosenthal’s pencil-and-digital illustrations is what will first strike readers of McGhee’s rather morose celebration of the forever nature of friendship.

A young boy looks forward to winter’s snowy fun. When it finally arrives, he crafts the perfect snowman friend, complete with nose, mouth, eyes, arms and the bright-red ball cap taken from his own head. He labels him, “My Snowman.” But while it is obvious that the boy spends some time admiring the snowman, the wordless pages devoted to their relationship fail to develop it fully, and readers may be left wondering why he is so sad when spring melts his friend. Where is he? Intuiting concepts beyond his apparent years, the boy finds his friend in the falling water and rain, in the fog and frost (although it is never explained to young readers how this is scientifically so), proving that McGhee’s unsubtly stated message is true: “What you love will always be with you.” And when the seasons come full circle, the two are reacquainted. Rosenthal’s illustrations are blotches of color on a stark white background, echoing the wintry setting and the boy’s sorrow, as well as the sparseness of the slow-paced text.

This retro salute to friendship simply tries to be too much to be successful—it does not hold a candle to McGhee's prior works such as Someday or Little Boy, both illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (2007, 2008) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8998-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

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