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

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 engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...

RALPH TELLS A STORY

With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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Too thin to fly as either tour or tribute but a memorable showcase nonetheless for a talented French paper artist.

MARY POPPINS UP, UP AND AWAY

From the Up, Up and Away series

Silhouettes, both printed and laser-cut, add sparkle to a quick tour of London sites and starry skies conducted by Mary Poppins.

Michael and Jane are thrilled when their nanny (literally) drops in on the end of a kite string, and spit-spot they’re off to see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and Piccadilly—followed by an undersea visit and a flight through comet-filled skies to a circus of constellations. As the text, translated without credit from the original French, is confined to a few wooden couplets along the lines of “On Cherry Tree Lane, it’s a nice day to dream… / To walk in the park or to eat an ice cream,” the stars of the show are Druvert’s illustrations. The black, cut pages are designed to be flipped back and forth to fill in printed cityscapes, marine scenes, and speckled firmaments with fine detail. The marvelous intricacy of the cutout fences, ironwork, trees, strands of seaweed, and small human figures leaves those pages too fragile to survive even moderately careless handling intact, but the intensely black overlay (along with a subtle use of gray tones in the backgrounds) creates a sense of depth and, often, an evocative shimmer of light. A large die-cut window in the front cover offers a hint of the visual pleasures within.

Too thin to fly as either tour or tribute but a memorable showcase nonetheless for a talented French paper artist. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-500-65104-9

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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