BUNNIES, CROCODILES, AND ME

STORIES OF BABY BEGINNINGS

The cuddly baby bunny image on the jacket is not the most representative sensibility of this collection of tales written and illustrated by European artists—Peter Allen, Catherine Benas, Anne Brouillard, Alain Crozon, Gilles Eduar, Pascal Estellon, Katja Gehrmann, Bruno Gilbert, and Muzo—who tend more toward the wild and woolly. The first tale by Eduar is a truncated scheme of evolution, which gets people onto the scene with dispatch, then sets them off on little, ocean-going rafts to “see what they would see.” That answers the unstated premise question of the project, “Where did I come from?” with the same visual and textual abandon of many of the tales. Gehrmann’s “Me,” for example, may be best described as an Expressionistic cutaway of the gestation and birth of a calf. Muzo’s little monster, also seen in cutaway, doesn’t want to be born at all until its big brother promises a fight. Offerings for the very youngest children include a quick counting story by Allen, “1 to 10 in the Maternity Ward,” and an object identification chart of what’s “In My Suitcase.” Brouillard’s “Lots of Little Things” is very French in mien and mood, full of atomistic musings. There is something here for nearly every taste and developmental level, ideal for readers who don’t object to being dropped abruptly into a strange, fantastic, richly textured rabbit hole. (Anthology. 3-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8109-4105-8

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE LOST BOY AND THE MONSTER

Strete pens an ode to tolerance that is none too subtle, but the stunning artwork from Johnson and Fancher should keep viewers involved. The story is a parable couched as a Native American tale, in which a boy (identified by Strete as lost and without a name, although why this is important is never made clear) comes across a rattlesnake and a scorpion, both of whom wonder why the boy doesn’t kill them: “Why should I do that? Snakes belong in this world just like me.” Scorpions, too, the boy chirps. The venomous critters adopt the boy as a brother and when he gets trapped by the Old Foot Eater, a monster who lives in a medicine basket on top of a tree, catching his quarry with a sticky rope, the rattlesnake and scorpion come to his rescue and seal the monster’s doom. Good deeds fly thick and fast here, but without context. The illustrations draw their hues from the American southwest, while the paint is scratched to convey a sense of age and animation, and the monster is a ghoulish, block-headed, spine-chilling delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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MAMA AND ME AND THE MODEL T

PLB 0-688-15299-6 The Searcys and the Longs (Mountain Wedding, 1996) return in this deep-South, mountain-valley duel of the sexes. Mandy Searcy tells about the arrival of a Model T on the farm. Mr. Long, Mandy’s stepfather, has just purchased the vehicle and is showing it off to the extended family. He calls the boys over for a closer inspection of the wondrous machine. “Cars are for boys,” chirps one boy, looking for trouble. “Girls just ride,” chides another. Mrs. Searcy thinks otherwise. She brushes past the protesting Mr. Long, commandeers the car, and races off with Mandy in the death seat. “We bobbed across a stump at the edge of the yard and ran over a crape of myrtle bush—Mama flattened a pine sapling before tearing through the pasture fence and shimmying over a hill.” It is one lovely rural landscape Mrs. Searcy explores at high speed, depicted in autumn splendor in Rand’s watercolors. This boisterous tip of the hat toward equality of the sexes is as fit and funny as a family story ought to be. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15298-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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