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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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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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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