This appealing stage version of a classic cautionary tale makes, at best, a richly illustrated but labored transition to...

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THE GOLDEN TOUCH

The Canadian creators of Time for Flowers, Time for Snow (2013) turn another myth into a musical performance—this one with comical overtones.

Like its predecessor, the result works better in audio than in print despite Béha’s luminescent, broadly theatrical illustrations. As reward for hosting Dionysius’ lush of a schoolmaster, Silenus, King Midas (already sporting donkey ears from an earlier escapade) rashly opts to wish for a golden touch despite his wife’s shrill torrent of abuse: “Fiddlesticks yourself, you king of all milquetoasts— / You might wish for a physique like the god Apollo boasts.” But no, and when he discovers his error by transforming not only beloved daughter Zoe into gold, but also his own tighty whities (“He’s turned his favourite gonches / Into metal underwear!”), his lachrymose regret causes the god to relent. Huser adds lively dialogue and detail to a full-cast version of the old tale in a recasting that mixes prose (read, on the accompanying CD, by Terry Jones) with lengthy stretches of rhyme in various meters. The latter are sung, often by a huge children’s chorus, on the recording. Though Giannis Georgeantelis’ orchestral accompaniment is not always particularly sprightly, the songs sound better than they read, as internal transitions from one “speaker” to the next are not indicated, and the rhymes and rhythms are frequently forced.

This appealing stage version of a classic cautionary tale makes, at best, a richly illustrated but labored transition to print. (production notes) (Mythology. 6-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-896580-73-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Tradewind Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization.

A PLACE FOR PLUTO

If Pluto can’t be a planet—then what is he?

Having been a regular planet for “the better part of forever,” Pluto is understandably knocked out of orbit by his sudden exclusion. With Charon and his four other moons in tow he sets off in search of a new identity. Unfortunately, that only spins him into further gloom, as he doesn’t have a tail like his friend Halley’s comet, is too big to join Ida and the other asteroids, and feels disinclined to try to crash into Earth like meteoroids Gem and Persi. Then, just as he’s about to plunge into a black hole of despair, an encounter with a whole quartet of kindred spheroids led by Eris rocks his world…and a follow-up surprise party thrown by an apologetic Saturn (“Dwarf planet has a nice RING to it”) and the other seven former colleagues literally puts him “over the moon.” Demmer gives all the heavenly bodies big eyes (some, including the feminine Saturn, with long lashes) and, on occasion, short arms along with distinctive identifying colors or markings. Dressing the troublemaking meteoroids in do-rags and sunglasses sounds an off note. Without mentioning that the reclassification is still controversial, Wade closes with a (somewhat) straighter account of Pluto’s current official status and the reasons for it.

Make space for this clever blend of science and self-realization. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68446-004-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance.

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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

FIREBIRD

A dancer offers encouragement to those who dream of following her onto the stage.

Copeland, a soloist with American Ballet Theater, is a rara avis, an African-American ballerina. In this, her first book for children, she establishes a dialogue with an imaginary young girl, also black, who is full of doubts. Copeland assures her that she too was “a dreaming shooting star of a girl” who worked very hard in class. Likewise, the young girl can “become a swan, a beauty, a firebird for sure.” The text is untrammeled by capital letters or periods, and the language soars into dizzying heights of lyrical fancy that barely contain her message of inspiration. Myers’ artwork, a combination of textured paintings and collage, is the true standout. His vibrant reds, golds and blues, set into the sharp-edged patterns of the backgrounds, evoke the intense drama of the Firebird ballet and pulsate with kinetic synergy. Double-page spreads depict the young girl maturing from loneliness to uncertainty to accomplishment as the ballerina practices at the barre and provides a one-on-one display of bravura technique. The New York City skyline sparkles as Copeland does jetés over a jeweled Brooklyn Bridge.

A starscape filled with visual drama and brilliance. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16615-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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