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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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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