THE EASTER STORY

Spirin illustrates excerpts from the King James Bible in a luminous Italian Renaissance style. A haloed Jesus is the bright light among the ghost-like masses; only he and the angels shine in the dark city next to texts from Matthew, Luke, and John. The subtle palette is enhanced by the detail in gilded armor, jeweled costumes, city buildings, and agrarian landscapes. This book serves as an artful introduction to the popular Bible stories, with appeal for those fond of ornate, formal treatments. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5052-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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THE JAR OF FOOLS

EIGHT HANUKKAH STORIES FROM CHELM

Chelm, the legendary Jewish town of fools, is the setting of Kimmel’s (The Runaway Tortilla, see below, etc.) Jewish holiday tales, only two of which are based on traditional Yiddish stories. The others are original or adaptations of stories from other traditions. All of them feature the “wise” fools whose naïveté gets them into strange situations and provides amusing solutions to their dilemmas. Some of the eight stories work better than others. “The Jar of Fools,” “Silent Samson, the Maccabee,” two traditional stories, and “The Soul of a Menorah,” written by Kimmel, are humorous, with surprise endings. “The Magic Spoon” is an adaptation of the stone soup story in which the stranger makes potato pancakes rather than soup. Other stories are less satisfying. Characters and plot strain for credibility—“How They Play Dreidel in Chelm” may lose its point for those readers who do not already know how the dreidel game is played. Gerstein’s (The Wild Boy, 1998, etc.) ink drawings on oil paint create a fantastic setting in which the characters wear rollerskates, snowshoes, bunny slippers, or duck feet. They sport bananas or fish necklaces, pots for hats, medieval ruffs, and costumes of every sort. Each illustration has fantastic details that transcend time and place. Page borders appropriate to the theme of the story help to break the dense format. An uneven collection, but a few of the stories will provide short seasonal read-alouds. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8234-1463-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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HALLOWEEN MOTEL

Creature feature fans are sure to find their favorite nightmares attending this Halloween soiree. Ready to party at the Halloween Motel, a family checks in, dons costumes (Dad’s Elvis—the horror, the horror), and breezily heads off down the halls to meet the other guests—all of whom wear amazingly realistic ghost, ghoul, mummy, vampire, zombie, witch, and other outfits. The rhymed text trots merrily along, with occasional choruses, and frequent changes in typeface and size, for variety. Rocco’s postmodern cartoon scenes, done in garish greens and purples, are chock-full of googlies, more caricatured than scary. When the irritated guests complain about “weirdos” coming to their doors, patchy green desk clerk Frankie Stein lurches up to inform the trick-or-treaters that they’re at the wrong venue; the Halloween Motel is down the road a piece. More giggles and squiggles from the author and illustrator of Snow Inside the House (1998), this is guaranteed to be a big storytime hit. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028815-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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