JENNIFER, HECATE, MACBETH, WILLIAM MCKINLEY, AND ME, ELIZABETH

Who!?!! Me, first: Elizabeth, apprentice witch, promoted to journeyman, dismissed for sentimentality; lonely in a new school, discovering the satisfaction of being different, becoming a friend. Jennifer, master witch, familiar of Hecate and Macbeth, mentor of Elizabeth; also her fellow fifth grader at William McKinley School, later her friend. . . In the tart Juvenile vernacular of a New York suburb, Elizabeth recounts the rigors and rewards of her apprenticeship: raw eggs and raw onion sandwiches (recipe given); thirteen taboos ("Never cut my hair. . . Never wear shoes in the house on Sundays"); a flying potion compounded of such exotica as snowballs from the deep freeze and fingernail parings. Gradually, Elizabeth comes to resent Jennifer's domination, and when Jennifer is about to drop Hilary Ezra, their pet toad, into the pot of potion, she rebels. The girls part in anger, but come together again on the next-to-the-last page and laugh at their former obfuscations; they are no longer would-be witches, they are just "good friends." Elizabeth, expressing her disgust at pinching relatives and posturing schoolmates, is a self-proclaimed pest and problem to her parents: the reader empathizes immediately. Jennifer, who happens to be Negro, is likely to remain an enigma (of some fascination) to her contemporaries, as she is to Elizabeth. The sudden resolution of their relationship is unconvincing, and the adults are either satirized sharply or borne stoically, but Elizabeth's narrative has considerable pertinence and vitality. With the important difference that the girls do not hurt anyone, this raises some of the questions attending the reception of Harriet the Spy. On balance, we find it a fresh, funny spoof of the adult Establishment and the cliches of conjuring.

Pub Date: March 21, 1967

ISBN: 0786275421

Page Count: 135

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1967

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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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

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