THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN

A swan with a speech defect. . . ?

But (one may counter) "When Mrs. Frederick C. Little's second son was born, everyone noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse." So he was, in the first sentence, while Louis the Swan's peculiar problem comes to light slowly in the Canadian wilderness where Sam Beaver and his father are camping, the better to fish (Mr. Beaver) and explore (Sam). He exults in watching wild creatures in wild places—now the two trumpeter swans and their nest, then the fifth cygnet who, unable to beep, takes hold of his shoelace and gives it a pull, "like a greeting." Meanwhile the long-winded father swan, the cob, and his commonsensical wife grow concerned about Louis' handicap (if he can't trumpet how will he attract a mate?) and Louis, at the family's winter base in Montana, determines to "develop myself along other lines": he will seek out Sam and learn to read and write. Which done—in Mrs. Hammerbottom's first grade—he returns with slate and chalk, extends an eager "Hi, there," and draws a blank; nor does Serena, his chosen one, respond to his desperate "I love you." Now the cob, who's considered it, will have to go to Billings and get Louis a trumpet. It is this theft, and the need to make restitution (they are "by nature law-abiding"), that starts Louis on his remarkable career, first, coached by Sam, as Camp Kookooskoos' official trumpeter (and emergency life-saver), then as accompanist for the Swan Boats in Boston's Public Garden (where "There's a Small Hotel," the Ritz Carlton), finally as top attraction at a Philadelphia night club. Bird Lake in the Zoo offers temporary refuge, and there Serena blows in (literally), to be awakened with "Beau—ti—ful dream—er. . . " and won forever. At last Louis, a rich bird, can return home; his father, boasting manfully, can redeem the family honor; and the storekeeper, overcompensated, can only wonder. . . while Serena and Louis content themselves with annual sorties to the scenes of his triumphs. The start is a jolt, and subsequently there are breaks (Louis has had no prior exposure to the written word) and some big accidents—especially Serena's abrupt reappearance. However, when Louis raises his trumpet—to serenade the skeptical hotel clerk, for instance—or Mr. White pinions human foibles—"Kookooskoos" because "a boy's camp should have a peculiar name"—reservations have a way of evaporating.

 

Pub Date: May 1, 1970

ISBN: 978-0-06-028935-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1970

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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A killer thriller.

THREE HOURS IN PARIS

Black takes time out from chronicling the neighborhood-themed exploits of half-French detective Aimée Leduc to introduce a heroine as American as apple pie.

Kate Rees never expected to see Paris again, especially not under these circumstances. Born and bred in rural Oregon, she earned a scholarship to the Sorbonne, where she met Dafydd, a handsome Welshman who stole her heart. The start of World War II finds the couple stationed in the Orkney Islands, where Kate impresses Alfred Stepney of the War Department with the rifle skills she developed helping her dad and five brothers protect the family’s cattle. After unimaginable tragedy strikes, Stepney recruits Kate for a mission that will allow her to channel her newly ignited rage against the Germans who’ve just invaded France. She’s parachuted into the countryside, where her fluent French should help her blend in. Landing in a field, she hops a milk train to Paris, where she plans to shoot Adolf Hitler as he stands on the steps of Sacre-Coeur. Instead, she kills his admiral and has to flee through the streets of Paris, struggling to hook up with the rescuers who are supposed to extract her. Meanwhile, Gunter Hoffman, a career policeman in a wartime assignment with the Reichssicherheitsdienst security forces, is charged with finding the assassin who dared attempt to kill the Führer. It’s hard to see how it can end well for both the cop and the cowgirl. The heroine’s flight is too episodic to capitalize on Black’s skill at character development, but she’s great at raising readers’ blood pressure.

A killer thriller.

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Soho Crime

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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