JABUTÍ THE TORTOISE

A TRICKSTER TALE FROM THE AMAZON

Jabutí, the flute-playing tortoise, may not be as well known in North America as some of his fellow tricksters like Coyote or Ananse, but there are many stories about him in Amazonian folklore, first recorded as long ago as 1875. McDermott (Musicians of the Sun, 1997, etc.) gives readers a useful background note on the Brazilian stories about the tortoise and then refers to similar tales from the Panchatantra and Aesop. When the King of Heaven, Tupan, calls the birds to sing at a special feast, Jabutí wants to play the musical accompaniment for the birds’ songs. The problem is that Jabutí can’t fly. Although most birds are his friends, Vulture is envious of the tortoise’s musical talents. He hates Jabutí and want to destroy him. He offers to fly the unsuspecting tortoise to the feast, but during the flight, he purposely drops him and poor Jabutí cracks his colorful shell on the rock below. The King of Heaven sends the birds to rescue the tortoise and Toucan, Macaw, and Hummingbird work together to patch him up. These three faithful friends gain beautiful new colors as a result of their good deed, but the vulture retains his dull plumage and has no singing voice to this day. McDermott’s succinct text makes this an easy story for children and adults to retell. His simple, bold forms and bright tropical colors on a hot pink ground will keep all eyes on the book during picture-book sessions or individual reading. A fine addition to the body of work by a proven master. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-15-200496-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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THE BEST CHEF IN SECOND GRADE

An impending school visit by a celebrity chef sends budding cook Ollie into a tailspin. He and his classmates are supposed to bring a favorite family food for show and tell, but his family doesn’t have a clear choice—besides, his little sister Rosy doesn’t like much of anything. What to do? As in their previous two visits to Room 75, Kenah builds suspense while keeping the tone light, and Carter adds both bright notes of color and familiar home and school settings in her cartoon illustrations. Eventually, Ollie winkles favorite ingredients out of his clan, which he combines into a mac-and-cheese casserole with a face on top that draws delighted praise from the class’s renowned guest. As Ollie seems to do his kitchen work without parental assistance, a cautionary tip or two (and maybe a recipe) might not have gone amiss here, but the episode’s mouthwatering climax and resolution will guarantee smiles of contentment all around. (Easy reader. 6-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-053561-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2007

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