SHOOTING STAR

ANNIE OAKLEY, THE LEGEND

A picture-book version of Annie Oakley's life that wavers between a fairly straight telling of the few known facts and tall-tale exaggerations that are both forced and silly. As a baby, Annie is described as spitting bullets out of her cradle at the tin roof of the barn, frightening the cows so bad that Pa has to move the structure 15 miles down the road. A few years later, Annie hunts for food for the family, and pays off the farm debt after her father dies. Covered are her marriage to Frank Butler, her trip to Europe with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, her meeting Queen Victoria, her outshooting Grand Duke Michael of Russia, and her legendary generosity. Mixed into those events are the tall-tale yarns, when she shot craters in the moon and blasted the points off a distant star. It's a hybrid approach, leaving readers without a real sense of what a genuine star Annie was. In his first book, Goto's glossy paintings, technically proficient, follow the bent of the story and also straddle realism and cartoon buffoonery, with limited success. He makes a burlesque of the facial expressions of Annie's audience, whose uniform astonishment begins to look static. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8027-8484-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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