A charming tale about deceit’s tangled web with textured, kinetic illustrations.

OSCAR THE OSPREY

THE BIRD WITH A CONUNDRUM

In this illustrated children’s book, a young osprey has an ethical dilemma.

In his debut novel, Oscar the Osprey: The Bird Who Was Afraid of Heights (2015), Polansky introduced his avian title character and explained how he dealt with his fear of heights. Oscar also bravely stayed at Jenny Lake for the winter while his flock migrated south, a feat that has transformed him from outcast to hero. But what only Oscar and the timber wolves know is that he actually found a safe spot a short distance from the lake, returning to it just before his flock flew north. The idea that a lie doesn’t matter if it doesn’t hurt anyone (voiced by a bear) seems plausible. But Oscar’s brother Otto, upset that he’s lost his leadership position among the young ospreys to Oscar, nearly drowns when he tries to prove himself by attempting to catch a strong and wily trout. And if ospreys believe the wolf leader’s self-serving claim that Oscar’s feat was easy, and “it would be a great idea if all you ospreys stayed through the winter,” the results could be disastrous. Oscar summons his courage and meets with the elders to tell the truth. In the end, Oscar understands that being honest is more important than heroism. Polansky lays out the complications of Oscar’s conundrum well; it’s not quite as simple as lie versus truth, especially in light of Oscar’s history of being ostracized for fear of heights. Young readers will appreciate the elders’ compassionate response. In a few cases, however, Polansky misrepresents ospreys for the sake of his fable. The birds rarely form large flocks in winter, for example. Also, it’s unfortunate to replicate human sexism in Otto’s comment that his sister Oprah is “no competition….She was just a girl.” (Female ospreys are generally larger than males.) The story is bolstered by Rosow’s black-and-white ink illustrations. Expressive and scribbly, as when a tangled cloud of frustration overhangs Oscar, these are somewhat reminiscent of Jules Feiffer’s work, but with more compact line work and an original flair.

A charming tale about deceit’s tangled web with textured, kinetic illustrations.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-72830-112-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: July 10, 2019

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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