Original storytelling with the feel of the best folklore, enhanced by illustrations done in a style not seen anyplace else.

THE STORYTELLER

The art of storytelling is celebrated as a life-giving force in this enthralling picture book set in Morocco.

A nameless, thirsty boy meets a storyteller and is drawn to return day after day to listen to intricately linked stories and to learn the older man’s art. The stories bring not only sustenance to the boy’s inner life, but water to his lips, for in this world, storytelling and water are symbolically connected. Stories will ward off the great drought if the Sahara encroaches on the cities, but only if young people keep the tradition alive. And so, in the manner of Scheherazade, the stories unfold, and the protagonist retells the story of the boy who saved the city from the sandstorm that arrived as a large djinn by telling him a story, day by day. With the stories embodying sharing, creativity, and hope, the life force of cool blue water appears in the illustrations, the antithesis of the destructive brown sand. Beautiful swirls of blue dominate many of the intricately bordered double-page spreads, fighting against the tans and browns of the djinn and the sands he represents. Each spread takes on a life of its own, sometimes highly geometric, other times full of swiftly crayon-drawn individuals, and still others with heavily inked and outlined figures.

Original storytelling with the feel of the best folklore, enhanced by illustrations done in a style not seen anyplace else. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 6-11)

Pub Date: June 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3518-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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