Offbeat but excellent—sure to stay with readers and provoke conversation.

What are the stories we tell children?

Upon visiting a barber, a Parisian child notices the portrait of an unusual man in an unusual coat. The man has an elephant’s nose and tusks, but this is the least strange thing about him, it seems. While cutting the child’s hair, the barber explains that the pictured gent is a tailor named Pierre. Though Pierre was a skilled tailor, he longed to fly, and while a few people at the time had attempted to do so, no one had ever succeeded. Pierre’s plans were different; Pierre would become a bird. To do this, Pierre sewed a coat of wings. Upon completing it, he called all the newspapers and gathered a crowd to watch him fly from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The day came, and Pierre climbed the tower, hugged his barber friend, jumped, and fell to his death. And life went on. This Norwegian import is an odd tale but an atmospheric one. And for that niche group of readers who check out Edward Gorey books for their sense of foreboding and dry-as-the-desert wit, this will be a welcome addition. Part caricature, part Tomi Ungerer, the illustrations are refreshingly different from most picture books today. It’s a strange story, but strange things can be good. Characters have skin the color of the page. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Offbeat but excellent—sure to stay with readers and provoke conversation. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-59270-366-1

Page Count: 52

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022



Disgusting and futile medical practices are always a pleasure to contemplate. Beccia, following closely in the spirit of The Raucous Royals (2008)—dry-witted artwork, conversational text, engaging historical detective work—asks readers to guess which “cures” may actually have helped a handful of ailments. Take a nasty cough, for example: Should you take a heaping helping of caterpillar fungus, frog soup or cherry bark? Common good sense will lead readers to wag their heads no when it comes to sprinkling mummy powder on a wound or drilling a hole in your head to relieve a headache, though some counterintuitive measures will come as a surprise success: spider web for an open wound, frog slime for a sore throat, moldy bread to treat a cut. The author provides intriguing background information on the cures—where they arose, why they were thought to be efficacious—and pulls more than one gem out of the nastiness, such as the property of silver to kill bacteria, giving birth to a familiar expression: “In the Middle Ages, wealthy-born babies sucked on silver spoons to protect against plague....” (note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-22570-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010



A lighthearted recap of some of our oldest tales.

For her latest cartoon foray into ancient cultures, Williams concocts a brisk dash through Egyptian myth and history.

Drawing figures in traditional Egyptian style but with a more natural range of expressions and gestures, she constructs flat-planed scenes that range from small sequential strips to full-page images and even larger ones on double gatefolds. Her nine episodes begin with a creation myth, end with Cleopatra’s death and in between introduce a select set of major gods and Pharaohs. Large and small, each picture is decked with strings of hieroglyphic-like signs for atmosphere as well as side comments in dialogue balloons to go with the short, legible captions. Though she freely mixes legend and fact without distinguishing one from the other in the main going, a smaller strip running below provides a cat’s-eye view of the subject. The patterns of Egyptian daily life (“Cats are Egypt’s greatest wonder, followed by the river Nile”), how mummies were made (“Yes, we do cats, too!”), early technological advances and general cultural values receive tongue-in-cheek glosses. The colorful, briefly told stories provide nothing like a systematic overview but are easily enjoyed for themselves, and they may well leave young readers with a hankering to find out more about Isis and Horus, Zoser, Hatshepsut, Tutankhamen and the rest.

A lighthearted recap of some of our oldest tales. (map) (Picture book/folklore. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5308-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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