Morris (The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, 2000, etc.) serves up another engaging take on Arthurian legend. Discarding the religious accretions overlaying the Grail quest, he renders it both simpler and more mysterious. Parsifal, who appeared briefly as a rustic strongman in earlier Morris tales, must now mold himself into the Round Table's greatest knight. Yet Parsifal's transformation is secondary to that of Piers who, longing for French courtly glamour, rejects his father's efforts to teach him smithcraft, renames himself Pierre, and latches onto a passing knight as his page. When his first knight proves a disappointment, Piers reluctantly engages to tutor the uncouth Parsifal in courtesy. While Piers is astonished at Parsifal's knightly prowess, the page's snobbish insistence on strict propriety leads his master to disaster. Cast aside, Piers embarks on another quest, to redeem Parsifal's failure—and his own. While the story stands on its own, it leads to predictable territory for fans of the series, as Piers is guided by Sir Gawain, Squire Terence, and other familiar faces to value true honor and courage. Morris deftly blends bloody clashes of arms and mysterious enchantments with the many flavors (sweet, bitter, and spicy) of romance, generously seasoned with wry humor and a dash of unexpected pathos. An elegiac air overhangs Camelot, as if the gracious morning of chivalry yields to a more robust yet mundane day. In his witty Author's Note, Morris confesses that he doesn't know what the tale means; but he loves it. So will the reader. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-618-05509-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001

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Florian’s seventh collection of verse is also his most uneven; though the flair for clever rhyme that consistently lights up his other books, beginning with Monster Motel (1993), occasionally shows itself—“Hello, my name is Dracula/My clothing is all blackula./I drive a Cadillacula./I am a maniacula”—too many of the entries are routine limericks, putdowns, character portraits, rhymed lists that fall flat on the ear, or quick quips: “It’s hard to be anonymous/When you’re a hippopotamus.” Florian’s language and simple, thick-lined cartoons illustrations are equally ingenuous, and he sticks to tried-and-true subjects, from dinosaurs to school lunch, but the well of inspiration seems dry; revisit his hilarious Bing Bang Boing (1994) instead. (index) (Poetry. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202084-5

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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