OPHELIA

Entirely winning illustrations and a folktale-like plot are brought low by a lackluster, if unobjectionable, ending. One morning Ophelia the hippo is awakened by Kevin’s voice coming “from afar,” complaining of butterflies in his stomach. Off the pudgy ’potamus goes, medical bag in hand, to see to Kevin’s stomachache, telling Meerkat as she goes. Meerkat recommends a hot-water bottle for his cramps and sets off too, alerting Frog before he leaves. Predictably, this forest game of “Telephone” imagines greater and greater troubles for poor Kevin with each animal in the chain, until, “Kevin is dead,” screeches Toucan. Delicate, full-bleed watercolors depict the characters with a gentle humor: The yellow-spotted, blue-footed Frog, for instance, carries a red teapot; Meerkat sports a red scarf and totes his penguin hot-water bottle under his arm. With each iteration of Kevin’s increasingly severe condition, the animals’ imaginations are projected into the scene, Kevin’s silhouette appearing in ever more dire circumstances. But the ending explanation—“He was just a little nervous about being in love”—is nothing if not a letdown and will likely leave readers feeling cheated. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-59078-659-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Lemniscaat/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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A DOG NAMED SAM

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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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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