THE BONES OF FRED MCFEE

A brother and sister bring home a plastic skeleton from the harvest fair, hang him in their sycamore tree, and name him Fred McFee. When the wind blows, his bones go clickety-clack. Old dog Sam now avoids the tree and “the rooster’s gone and the hens won’t lay, / since we got Fred McFee.” Then: “The dark is dropping like a cowl— / There’s no star to be seen. / What’s wrong with Sam? We hear him howl / This night of Halloween.” The next morning McFee has vanished, gone from the sycamore tree, but below is a mound they know is a grave and they mark the spot with pebbles and shells. Now when the wind howls and shakes the tree, “We hear them dancing the dance of the dead—those bones of Fred McFee!” Told in rhyme with the rhythm of an old narrative poem, the story will work as a scary read-aloud but it’s the attractive illustrations that cast the spell. The combination of smartly designed compositions and elongated perspectives creates an engrossingly eerie effect. The lines of the scratchboard and watercolors etch dimension into the shapes, pulling the scenes up in dramatic fashion. Jack-o’-lanterns shift from friendly to fearsome as they loom open-mouthed in the foreground. Fred is no namby-pamby skeleton; this is spookiness with attitude and a great new addition to Halloween shelves. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-15-202004-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area.

RED AND LULU

A pair of cardinals is separated and then reunited when their tree home is moved to New York City to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The male cardinal, Red, and his female partner, Lulu, enjoy their home in a huge evergreen tree located in the front yard of a small house in a pleasant neighborhood. When the tree is cut down and hauled away on a truck, Lulu is still inside the tree. Red follows the truck into the city but loses sight of it and gets lost. The birds are reunited when Red finds the tree transformed with colored lights and serving as the Christmas tree in a complex of city buildings. When the tree is removed after Christmas, the birds find a new home in a nearby park. Each following Christmas, the pair visit the new tree erected in the same location. Attractive illustrations effectively handle some difficult challenges of dimension and perspective and create a glowing, magical atmosphere for the snowy Christmas trees. The original owners of the tree are a multiracial family with two children; the father is African-American and the mother is white. The family is in the background in the early pages, reappearing again skating on the rink at Rockefeller Center with their tree in the background.

A touching, beautifully illustrated story of greatest interest to those in the New York City area. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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