Playful and more than just a little mysterious—like a shadow-puppet play in full color.

READ REVIEW

SHADOW CHASERS

Intriguing illustrations draw readers into a meditation on shadows.

The text employs direct address, encouraging readers to imagine chasing shadows: “If you follow them, / and try to catch them, / they will flit and flutter away.” A trio of Caucasian children plays at dusk chasing shadows through a sunset-hued forest. The simple text employs rhythmic, sometimes-rhyming language that, like the book’s subject, never settles down and allows itself to be caught. The illustrations themselves have the look of dioramas, the cut-paper figures of the children, birds and animals set into the scenes so that they cast shadows. Whether they are photographed dioramas, entirely digital compositions or a combination of the two is hard to say, but the slightly surreal combination of two- and three-dimensionality will have children examining the pages closely. At one point, the two girls, running, cast the shadow of a deer; in another picture, an artfully arranged cluster of mushrooms casts the shadow of a squirrel. The three children have a 1950s aesthetic; their wide eyes, snub noses and tiny mouths would be at home in advertising or storybooks of the era, particularly the little sister with pigtails and pedal pushers.

Playful and more than just a little mysterious—like a shadow-puppet play in full color. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7624-4720-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.

CLOTHESLINE CLUES TO JOBS PEOPLE DO

From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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