A classic underdog tale frequently outshone by the strong shapes and intense colors that each page turn brings into view.

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ISSUN BÔSHI

THE ONE-INCH BOY

Action and character take a back seat to the art in this tersely retold version of the Japanese “Tom Thumb.”

The story, presented in blocks of small type surrounded by acres of white or monochrome space, minimizes specific cultural or place markers but sticks to the standard plotline. In “a country far away,” a peasant couple sees a wish fulfilled with the birth of a tiny lad who later sets out for adventure. On the way to a city, he meets an ogre who promises to use a magic hammer to give him full height in exchange for a certain “beautiful treasure.” Issun demurs, then goes on to become playmate for a nobleman’s daughter. She, after he rescues her from the ogre and uses the hammer on himself to grow, takes “a different view of Issun Bôshi,” so that “their story is not yet over.” The illustrations are as allusive as this final line—alternating stylized landscapes with scenes of theatrically posed figures clad in a mix of Japanese and Western dress and ending not with a view of the principals but a generic assemblage of items from earlier pictures. Looking like a series of screen or woodblock prints, the dazzling art features broad, opaque layers of high-contrast orange, blue and yellow with combed or rubbed portions to give the flat surfaces shading and texture.

A classic underdog tale frequently outshone by the strong shapes and intense colors that each page turn brings into view. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-3-89955-718-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little Gestalten

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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