CANNONBALL CORALIE AND THE LION

After Coralie befriends the lion in a traveling circus, the entire troupe spurns its dictatorial ringmaster.

Woods-dwelling Coralie swings from trees and juggles, unbound by rules. She’s “funny and brave and silly and strange” but lonely. When the boisterous little circus arrives, Coralie follows it. The Man in the Big Hat bosses everyone. “Less wobbling!” he tells the high-wire cat. “More bananas!” he shouts to the juggling chimp. When Coralie auditions, Lion roars appreciatively, but the Man in the Big Hat dismisses her tricks as “not good enough,” assigning her instead to be a “human cannonball.” Brave Coralie literally rises to the challenge: Easton frames her in midair, the amazed crowd a sea of faces far below. “ ‘ROAR!’ said Lion, which meant, ‘You were amazing!’ ” But the Man in the Big Hat excoriates her performance, banishing her and ordering the performers back to work: “More tricks! Less smiling! And absolutely no caring about each other!” This time, Lion roars so powerfully that man and hat blow clear away. Easton’s matte illustrations make striking use of red and black for the circus’ excitement. The ferny, blue-green woods and Lion’s radiating mane agreeably evoke earlier artists: John Burningham, Martin and Alice Provensen, even Henri Rousseau. Well-paced and patterned, the narrative offers fully seven opportunities for children to join in with a “ROAR.” Coralie and the Man with the Big Hat both present white; other human performers and the circus’s audience are diverse.

A roaring debut. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-78603-031-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart.

THE MAGICIAN'S HAT

New England Patriot and literacy advocate Mitchell proves to have a touch of magic as an author as well as on the field.

It’s Family Fun Day at the library, and families of many sizes, constellations, and skin tones are participating. Amid book scavenger hunts and storytelling, a magician arrives. He is white and lanky, sporting a purple polka-dot vest and a bright yellow ascot. But most importantly, he has a very large, mysterious hat. He tells the children how he came to Family Fun Day when he was younger and read his very first book about magic in the library. Turning the pages and getting lost in the words inspired him to become a magician. He realized that it wasn’t just about spells and potions, but that books themselves are magical. Three children reach into the hat and find books about their future professions—Amy, a white girl, is a dentist; Matt, a bespectacled black boy, is a football player; and Ryan, a white boy, is an astronaut. The magician then turns the hat to readers, asking, “What are your dreams?” Previously self-published, the work gets a new look from Lew-Vriethoff’s bustling library and bright swirls of magic and bookish motivation. As an entry in the books-are-awesome genre, it’s mostly distinguished by the author’s clear belief in his message.

Perhaps youngsters who think they are more interested in football than reading will take the message to heart. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-11454-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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