MONKEY KING

Using a combination of handmade and bought papers, Young has created a dazzling collage adaptation of the traditional Chinese legend of the Monkey King. Brilliant shades of pink, purple, red, orange, gold, and green are offset by wispy whites and stark blacks on warm earth-toned backgrounds. The colors often leap and swirl across the pages, tracing the trajectories of Monkey’s energetic somersaults and mirroring his irrepressible personality. Always restless and eager for new adventures, Monkey simply can’t keep out of trouble. Born from an exploding rock, he fights the fierce Red Beard Bandit, steals a golden pillar from the underwater palace of the Dragon King, and gobbles up all the forbidden fruit from Jade King’s immortal peach tree. The centerpiece of the book, and of Monkey’s adventures, takes place on pages that fold out both horizontally and vertically as Monkey leaps to a place that he thinks is the end of the earth, but that turns out to be the upraised hand of Buddha. He scribbles, “Monkey was here,” thinking he has triumphed, but in fact he is trapped. After 500 years of captivity, he is freed to have a few more adventures before the end of the book, which concludes when he learns that there is “strength in admitting to weakness.” The narrator leaves the reader with a question and an answer—“Did Monkey’s humility last? That’s another story for another book.” Young’s prose is spare, and the placement of the words is brilliantly integrated into his page designs. An author’s note provides information on the Chinese epic Journey to the West, from which these episodes have been adapted. There is also a list of characters with their descriptions. This visually and thematically rich creation by one of our finest picture book artists is wonderful both to read aloud and to peruse and ponder at leisure. (Picture book/folktale. All ages)

Pub Date: March 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-027919-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THE LORAX

The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more