I SAW ESAU

THE SCHOOLCHILD'S POCKET BOOK

A collection of traditional schoolyard verse, winningly grouped in 31 subjects from "Beginning of Term" to "End of Term" ("No more beetles in my tea,/Making googly eyes at me") and including not just "Insults," "Riddles," and "Nonsense" but such creative headings as "Retaliation," "Guile—Innocent," "Book Desecration," and "Lullabies—Adolescent Style"—a book originally published in Britain in 1947 and now given glorious new life. Sendak peoples these small (5"X7") pages with hundreds of marvelous characters, many in the irresistible small size he used in the "Nutshell Library": delectable caricatures; cocky kids brimming with mischief (even some of the appealingly vulnerable babies have a wicked gleam in the eye); and more fearsome figures, reminders that—as children themselves well know—darkness ever lurks. Sendak also dramatizes the verses' challenging spirit in some splendidly witty and imaginative interpretations: Dr. Fell is truly ghoulish, but his victim remains undaunted. Scores of these pictures are masterpieces of illustration: lively, exquisitely designed, offering unexpected insights while enthusiastically celebrating their texts. Overall, the handsome format is worthy of the content, and the mood is insouciant glee. A treasure. New introduction by Iona Opic; notes, nicely leavened by Sendak's characters, who reappear among them. (Folklore. 5+)

Pub Date: June 5, 1992

ISBN: 1-56402-046-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1992

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AMERICAN TALL TALES

For the 90's, a handsome, well-documented collection of stories about nine uniquely American characters. In her intelligent introduction, Osborne explains their genesis ``from various combinations of historical fact, the storytelling of ordinary people, and the imagination of professional writers'' and notes that changing times put a new light on stories deriding various groups (including women and even animals). Thus her intention is to emphasize ``gargantuan physical courage and absurd humor'' and to ``bring out the vulnerable and compassionate side'' despite the stories' ``ineradicable taint of violence.'' Osborne succeeds pretty well in her intention, piecing together stories that make fine introductions to characters like Mose and Stormalong. Her approach suits Johnny Appleseed and John Henry better than it does Davy Crockett battling a panther, but she does manage to put a new slant on Pecos Bill and his bouncing bride without undermining the story (there's no question of a wife's disobedience here; Sue wants to ride Bill's horse as a test of skill). The telling is more polished than lively—Glen Rounds's irrepressible wit (Ol' Paul, the Mighty Logger, 1949) is more fun, but these versions are perfectly acceptable. McCurdy's vigorous wood engravings, tinted with lucid color, contribute a rugged frontier flavor; lively, though a bit formal in style, they suit the text admirably. Each story is introduced by source notes; a story-by-story bibliography provides a good roundup of this popular genre. (Folklore. 6-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-679-80089-1

Page Count: 116

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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