THE SEVEN GODS OF LUCK

The kindness and generosity of two children result in a great reward for them at New Year's in an unusual fable set in Japan. Sachiko and her brother, Kenji, are saddened when their mother comes home empty-handed on New Year's Eve, so they decide to try to sell some hairpins and chopsticks they have made, in order to buy rice for their meal. On their way, they pass the Seven Gods of Luck—life-sized statues exemplifying virtues like wisdom, long life, and beauty—and dust the snow off them. They can't sell their things, but do trade wares with an old man, so that they can all go home for the night. They procure six straw hats that they attach to the statues—upon the seventh Sachiko bestows her scarf—to keep the gods free from snow. Their gesture prods the gods to give the family a fabulous New Year's meal in seven pots. Kudler's first book is predictable, but does reveal the stark simplicity of this Japanese household, and provides a window into traditions and daily life. Although two paintings show the children with the very wares that they have already traded away, Finch's watercolors are well done and innovative in composition, and manage to present fresh details of an unfamiliar culture in every picture. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-395-78830-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1997

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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