A parrot is too expensive, so Abby decides to teach one of the farmyard hens to talk. Patience is rewarded: "Pretty Polly" first speaks at four months and soon has a large vocabulary whose use, like a parrot's, may happen to be relevant but is basically random. Still, Abby loves Polly and is fully engaged in her life's natural dramas. When a fox attacks, Polly is the sole survivor among her siblings; Dad, who persists in seeing her money-making potential (though he has agreed that Polly belongs to Abby), provides a cockerel and a new generation is hatched, but none with Polly's gift. The rumor of a talking hen gets out; there are encounters with a journalist and an elderly duke, who imagines that Abby is an extraordinary ventriloquist. The family's proper respect for his grace, tempered with sensible egalitarianism, provides some humor, as does Abby's little brother Bob, whose reasonable misuse of language contrasts delightfully with Polly's parroting. All in all, a typical King-Smith treat, with a well-realized British farm setting, amusing dialogue, and an appealing premise developed with logic and good humor. Illustrations not seen; unfortunately, the jacket art is rather wooden in style and differs in detail from the text. (Fiction. 5-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-517-58606-1

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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At ``Step 2'' in the useful ``Step into Reading'' series: an admirably clear, well-balanced presentation that centers on wolves' habits and pack structure. Milton also addresses their endangered status, as well as their place in fantasy, folklore, and the popular imagination. Attractive realistic watercolors on almost every page. Top-notch: concise, but remarkably extensive in its coverage. A real bargain. (Nonfiction/Easy reader. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-679-91052-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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