TINKER AND TOM AND THE STAR BABY

Whimsical, fantastical—and even a little silly—this nighttime story from McPhail (The Puddle, p. 58, etc.) has plenty of child appeal. One night, Tinker and his bear, Tom, are gazing out the window instead of sleeping. A streak of light in the sky turns into a rocket ship crash-landing in their backyard, with a star baby inside. Tinker figures they need to get the dents out of the ship, refuel, and send the star baby back to its mother; Tom is quite taken with the little sprite and wants to keep it. Star Baby eats the cat’s food and sends the cat, the cereal, and later, Tinker’s dad, flying (gently) through the air; Tinker and Tom fill the rocket with odds and ends from the refrigerator and send Star Baby off, as is right. The rather surreal elements of the story are held in check by the reassuringly familiar surroundings: Boy and bear pad around the cozy kitchen, the garage sports a basketball hoop, five-pointed stars appear in the sky, a night light is on the stove, and cheese and carrots are in the fridge. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-316-56349-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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THE KOREAN CINDERELLA

A retelling based on three of the ``half a dozen'' Korean Cinderella variants: ``Pear Blossom's'' stepmother calls her ``Little Pig,'' barely feeds her, and assigns her impossible tasks (filling a cracked jug), but the girl is helped by magical animals (a giant ox that weeds a rice paddy for her). A young magistrate, ``struck by her beauty,'' identifies her at a village festival by her lost sandal, and thus she makes an honorable marriage. The simple tale is retold in a vigorous, rather dramatic style. Heller, whose illustrations are based on her research in Korea, offers bold montages of figures and patterns in a striking array of intense colors. Her facial expressions are less expertly crafted than her realistic animals, sculptural draperies, and decorative traditional motifs, while the mix of styles leads to some cluttered effects; still, an attractive setting for a worthy variant. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-020432-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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