A visually charming peek into the secret life of elves.

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IN THE LAND OF ELVES

From spring to winter, elves pursue hidden seasonal activities.

After a winter of guarding their queen and her “precious jewels” in a “crystal cave,” elves emerge to welcome spring sunshine and blooming snowdrops. They tend flowers, collecting their petals. On summer nights, they count the stars, and during summer days they watch butterflies “drift and flutter from flower to flower.” When autumn arrives, the elves “wander in the undergrowth” and gather fruits, berries, and nuts, which they share with hungry birds at the first winter snow. With winter’s arrival, the elves stay warm in their underground homes until spring returns. The progression of seasons drives this otherwise plot-free description of elfin activities. Luminous illustrations in pencil and vibrant watercolors reveal the elves’ miniature world concealed beneath tree roots and emerging flowers of spring, scarlet poppies of summer, brambles and toadstools of autumn, and winter’s bare branches. Resembling country folk dressed in traditional peaked caps, pointy shoes, short jackets, aprons, and smocks, the wee, light-skinned elves carry on their activities of gathering and gazing in double-page seasonal vignettes surrounded by plants, insects, birds, and tiny rodents rendered with realistic accuracy, creating the illusion they are an integral part of the natural world.

A visually charming peek into the secret life of elves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-178250-242-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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