THE GOLDEN HOARD

McCaughrean (The Odyssey, 1995, etc.) makes good on the subtitle—``Myths and Legends of the World''—with 22 exploits by the likes of Coyote, the Polynesian trickster Maui, Robin Hood, and St. George, all trippingly retold in a modern idiom: `` `Look out, here comes Quetzalcoatl,' said the Sun, glowering, lowering, his red rimmed eyes livid.'' Whether writing in a traditional, heroic vein, as in her tale of El Cid's final battle, or with the rap rhythm of the West Indian ``Anansi and the Mind of God,'' McCaughrean's voice is distinctive, and she puts her own spin on some stories, adding an ironic ending to the Sumerian ``Man Who Almost Lived Forever,'' and emphasizing the feminism in a Kikuyu tale of gender conflict. The illustrations are awkwardly drawn but vibrantly colored; Willey suggests each tale's source with culturally characteristic patterns and fashions, but the neoprimitive figures and compressed compositions have less impact than her slashes of red and orange, undulating blues and rich greens. While most of these tales are available elsewhere (some in other versions by McCaughrean), this is an unusually well-knit, wide-ranging gathering. Brief, nonspecific source notes are appended. (Folklore. 10-13)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80741-4

Page Count: 130

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1996

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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BEOWULF

“Hear, and listen well, my friends, and I will tell you a tale that has been told for a thousand years and more.” It’s not exactly a rarely told tale, either, though this complete rendition is distinguished by both handsome packaging and a prose narrative that artfully mixes alliterative language reminiscent of the original, with currently topical references to, for instance, Grendel’s “endless terror raids,” and the “holocaust at Heorot.” Along with being printed on heavy stock and surrounded by braided borders, the text is paired to colorful scenes featuring a small human warrior squaring off with a succession of grimacing but not very frightening monsters in battles marked by but a few discreet splashes of blood. Morpurgo puts his finger on the story’s enduring appeal—“we still fear the evil that stalks out there in the darkness . . . ”—but offers a version unlikely to trouble the sleep of more sensitive readers or listeners. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-3206-6

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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