Mateo, a young boy who lives in the southern Mexican village of Monte Alban, learns to carve traditional wooden toys (juguetes) at his father’s side. But he is haunted by visions of larger and more colorful animals. When he tells his father of his desire to carve those he imagines, his father discourages him: “Stop these foolish dreams. We have work to do.” But Mateo does not give up—although his first efforts are disappointing. Eventually he succeeds in carving a magnificent quetzal, followed by an amazing array of large, colorful animals in active poses. Cordova’s bright, acrylic illustrations on gessoed ground lovingly portray Mateo, his family, his village, and the amazing wooden animals, splashed with polka dots and intricate designs. Spanish words are interspersed throughout the story; although their meanings are clear from the context, a pronunciation guide would have been helpful. Shepard Barbash provides an endnote on Oaxacan wood carving and the work of Manuel Jiménez, who inspired this story. The message, clearly stated at the outset with a quotation from Goethe—“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”—may exceed the grasp of the children for whom the book is intended, but Cordova’s depictions of Mateo’s animals may win them over. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8118-1244-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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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 marketing trip from Miranda (Glad Monster, Sad Monster, p. 1309) that jiggity jigs off in time-honored nursery-rhyme fashion, but almost immediately derails into well-charted chaos. The foodstuffs—the fat pig, the red hen, the plump goose, the pea pods, peppers, garlic, and spice—are wholly reasonable in light of the author's mention of shopping at traditional Spanish mercados, which stock live animals and vegetables. Stevens transfers the action to a standard American supermarket and a standard American kitchen, bringing hilarity to scenes that combine acrylics, oil pastels, and colored pencil with photo and fabric collage elements. The result is increasing frazzlement for the shopper, an older woman wearing spectacles, hat, and purple pumps (one of which is consumed by her groceries). It's back to market one last time for ingredients for the hot vegetable soup she prepares for the whole bunch. True, her kitchen's trashed and she probably won't find a welcome mat at her supermarket hereafter, but all's well that ends well—at least while the soup's on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200035-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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