THE COCK, THE MOUSE, AND THE LITTLE RED HEN

An unattributed expansion of the familiar nursery tale about a cock and mouse who mend their unhelpful ways after their housemate cleverly contrives their escape from a fox. Percy's smooth color-pencil style is as effective here as it was in his illustrations for Reynard the Fox (1991); the appealing animals are sly caricatures of their human counterparts, the realistic settings so lucidly rendered that they will be clear to the youngest listeners. The retelling is brisk and contemporary, but includes a decidedly odd addition: The ``four bad little foxes'' who live with the big fox not only volunteer to help with the cooking, but are actually seen at work making preparations for it—which sets them at least a couple of rungs above the cock and mouse on the moral ladder. What are we to make of that? It certainly undermines the story's original didactic intent. (Folklore/Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-56402-008-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1992

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Trite text and overworked art detract from an interesting concept.

FULL MOON LORE

Each month of the year is represented by a full moon, one of its nicknames in the Northern Hemisphere, and some notes about seasonal changes during that month.

“Let me tell you a story about the moon. That bright, round moon up there is called a Full Moon….People long ago kept track of the seasons by giving each full moon a special name.” A man with light-brown skin sits with a small, dark-haired, even lighter-skinned girl in his lap, open book before them. Behind them, a stylized version of a moonlit night sets the stage for more pages of full moons. The illustrations use strong, dark lines filled in with high-contrast blocks of color. A cursory glance invites a second look; a second look brings a discomfiting sense of the uncanny, as animals, plants, and humans are generally depicted in that nether world between realism and fantasy. A double-page spread of children gathering berries by moonlight is particularly eerie. The text is also a garbled mix of poetic imagery and snippets of natural science: “Thunder and lightning storms roll through the plains, providing strength for the farmer’s crops to grow.” What does that mean? Most pages keep the full moon gender-free, but it is given a male pronoun during April—as is November’s hardworking beaver. Most problematic of all is that there is no information about the “people long ago” or the culture or cultures from which these various names originated.

Trite text and overworked art detract from an interesting concept. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-58536-965-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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An easy way to open up children’s eyes to girls around the world.

G MY NAME IS GIRL

A SONG OF CELEBRATION FROM ARGENTINA TO ZAMBIA

Riffing on a 1950s playground rhyme, this alphabet book uses the rhythm of “A, My Name Is Alice” but does not include the references to husbands and products.

Instead, the rhymes concentrate on pairs of girls or women—best friends, mothers and daughters, cousins, etc.—in an alphabetical list of countries around the world. These young women describe themselves and their female counterparts in positive and exciting ways: “I, my name is INDU, and my niece’s name is ISHANI. / We come from INDIA, and we are INVENTIVE.” The duo fly a large, handmade kite on a flat roof in an Indian city. The illustrations have an attractive, stylized paper-cut quality. The girls and women are diverse in skin tone and hair color. As usual in an alphabet book, X proves to be a problem, and the solution is a little clunky: “X, my name is AXELLE, and my nana’s name is MAXINE. / We come from LUXEMBOURG, and we are EXTRAORDINARY.” These two soar in a hang glider over a snowy landscape. A concluding double-page spread shows all the girls and women in a large courtyard, joyfully playing together. Readers could play a guessing game, remembering their names and countries. The countries include nations usually not mentioned, including Burkina Faso and Qatar, and the rear endpapers present a simple map of the continents with the girls’ faces keyed to their countries. Both features enhance learning opportunities. (This book was reviewed digitally with 8.5-by-22-inch double-page spreads viewed at 44.6% of actual size.)

An easy way to open up children’s eyes to girls around the world. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30404-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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