THE SHY CREATURES

Homage or knock-off? It’s often a tough call, and this catalog of imaginary creatures offers no easy answer. Mack’s illustrations have a decidedly familiar look from the way that individual characters are drawn to the composition of the double-page spreads. The fish in its bowl, for example, and the way the nameless heroine perches atop a pile of water glasses each evoke a particular illustration by Dr. Seuss. The similarity extends to the general style—illustrations have black outlines, a relatively limited palette of colors and white backgrounds. The rhyming text, meanwhile, gallops along interminably, imagining how a shy little girl with a fondness for misunderstood monsters might minister to the ills of Bigfoot, Pegasus, the Cyclops and others. The varied placement of the text also mimics Dr. Seuss’s style. Unfortunately, Mack’s book ultimately lacks the most Seussian attribute of all—imagination. The predicaments the creatures get into are predictable, and the shy little girl’s personality falls flat. Skip this, however well-intentioned, and stick with the source of Mack’s inspiration instead. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36794-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

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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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ISH

A lovely tale about the trials of a budding artist brought to us by the author/illustrator of Dot (2003). Ramon creates drawings at a furious pace. Everywhere he goes, he draws. But there’s nothing like a derisive older brother to put the kibosh on a sensitive artist type. Suddenly, Ramon becomes self-critical. He cannot satisfy his own desire to get things “right” anymore, so he decides to put away his pencil for good. Luckily another family member, his sister, has secretly been collecting Ramon’s art for her own private gallery. She convinces him that a successful drawing need not be a perfect reflection of reality. It’s okay if a house looks house-ish or a fish looks fish-ish. It is just the liberating sentiment Ramon needs to reignite his creativity. Told in spare prose with Reynolds’s signature line drawings in watercolor, ink, and tea, Ish will encourage other little artists. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7636-2344-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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