The sentiment is true even when obscured, as here, by ostentatious graphic design.

ANIMALS SPELL LOVE

A series of fanciful animal portraits, constructed using only the letters or signs for “Love” or “I love you” in 16 languages (or 18, depending how you count).

Style definitively trumps legibility here, whether the sentiment is expressed in English or Amharic, Thai, or American Sign Language. Even for the nine tongues that use non-Roman scripts, Cundy, a veteran typographer, chooses multiple typefaces and throws in so many swashes and dingbats that the animals are rarely recognizable and the words composing their bodies thoroughly disguised. Fortunately for readers, he identifies all of the creatures, scenarios, and languages in his accompanying narratives. Unfortunately, he also adds sometimes-daunting challenges, such as finding a tiny heart placed amid thousands of spiral ornaments on the Hebrew page or counting the hundreds of “Love letters” that make up the ornate flowers he assembles for English. Also unfortunately, his pronunciation guidelines are idiosyncratic—the umlaut in the Swedish “älskar” is rendered as a glottal stop following the pronoun “Jag,” for instance, while the short “a” in the French “L’amour” is given as is, but the same sound in the Italian “Amore” is “Ah.” Between a pretty if perfunctory world map that doubles as index and a complete tally of typefaces and ornaments, he concludes “Any way you say it, ‘I love you’ means the same thing to everyone!”

The sentiment is true even when obscured, as here, by ostentatious graphic design. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-56792-586-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Godine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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A lubberly addition to the fleet, kept afloat by its pictures.

PIRATES

From the Want to Know series

Light scrapings of pirate lore are delivered by two children dressed to the hilt for their roles and leading a ragged but distinctly nonfearsome crew.

Billy and Belle are playing pirates at the beach. Transformed into swashbuckling buccaneers by the flip of a half-page, they proceed to offer ingenuous disquisitions on the nature and history of piracy (“Did you know many pirates steal from other people because they are very poor?”). They also cover piratical dress, behavior, shipboard tasks and lingo, followed by a spot of smoky but nonviolent plundering. Then it’s time to go ashore for a quick chantey, a matching game that encourages drawing lines between pirate heads and hats, and a set of review questions (“What’s the leader of a pirate ship called?”). The text isn’t much more than inconsequential ballast (“It is considered bad luck for girls to be on board a pirate ship. That’s why girl pirates dress up as boys”). Nevertheless, the cleanly drawn, brightly hued cartoon illustrations—climaxed by a double-gatefold cutaway view of a capacious ship crewed by cheery idlers—sail along airily enough to keep budding buccaneers entertained.

A lubberly addition to the fleet, kept afloat by its pictures. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-60537-135-1

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Clavis

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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A rare variant of a nearly universal myth, with powerfully evocative illustrations.

PEACE DANCER

From the Northwest Coast Legends series , Vol. 4

A Tsimshian artist links a flood tale from his village to a frequently performed potlatch dance.

As in Vickers and Budd’s earlier Northwest Coast retelling, Cloudwalker (2014), richly colored woodblock-print illustrations add strong notes of mysticism and ritual to a tersely related episode. After a group of children heedlessly captures a crow and pulls out its feathers, floods cover the land and drive all the people into canoes. Their frantic prayers go unanswered until the Chief of the Heavens, seeing that the birds have no place to alight, restores peace to the land by letting the waters recede. The humbled people rebuild, renew their respect for all life, and commemorate the event forever after with a Peace Dance that is marked by shaking out eagle down for remembrance. The full-page illustrations begin with idyllic scenes of shorelines and boats, all overlaid with ghostly Northwest Coast motifs. Later, more-turbulent views of silhouetted figures amid swirling waves give way to a climactic double-page spread panorama of a restored, sunlit landscape rich in flora and distinctively stylized fauna. The story will likely be new to readers outside the culture; Vickers closes with a note on his own lineage and how he learned both the dance and the tale directly from elders.

A rare variant of a nearly universal myth, with powerfully evocative illustrations. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-55017-739-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harbour Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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