THE DRUMS OF NOTO HANTO

On Noto Hanto, which points “upward like a thumb into the Sea of Japan,” a wealthy coastal village is under threat from a warlord seeking riches. They have little in the way of weapons, but they do have their drums—drums of all sizes, usually played at each change of season. The children provide the idea of using terrifying masks to make the warlord, Kenshin, and his men “melt” in fear. The samurai arrive by boat, spotting gruesome monsters on shore and hearing the overwhelming noise of the drums; frightened by the spectacle, they never disembark. The people of Noto Hanto have celebrated this 1576 victory annually in a mask-wearing, drum-beating ceremony. At first glance, the colorful illustrations have the precision of computer-generated art, but they are actually scenes composed of meticulous cut-paper designs. The dimension and texture of these complement James’s sound-effects-laden text; the suspense builds with each beat as the villagers fight to save Noto Hanto, and readers are certain to have the pounding of drums in their ears by the story’s conclusion. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2574-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE LOST BOY AND THE MONSTER

Strete pens an ode to tolerance that is none too subtle, but the stunning artwork from Johnson and Fancher should keep viewers involved. The story is a parable couched as a Native American tale, in which a boy (identified by Strete as lost and without a name, although why this is important is never made clear) comes across a rattlesnake and a scorpion, both of whom wonder why the boy doesn’t kill them: “Why should I do that? Snakes belong in this world just like me.” Scorpions, too, the boy chirps. The venomous critters adopt the boy as a brother and when he gets trapped by the Old Foot Eater, a monster who lives in a medicine basket on top of a tree, catching his quarry with a sticky rope, the rattlesnake and scorpion come to his rescue and seal the monster’s doom. Good deeds fly thick and fast here, but without context. The illustrations draw their hues from the American southwest, while the paint is scratched to convey a sense of age and animation, and the monster is a ghoulish, block-headed, spine-chilling delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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MAMA AND ME AND THE MODEL T

PLB 0-688-15299-6 The Searcys and the Longs (Mountain Wedding, 1996) return in this deep-South, mountain-valley duel of the sexes. Mandy Searcy tells about the arrival of a Model T on the farm. Mr. Long, Mandy’s stepfather, has just purchased the vehicle and is showing it off to the extended family. He calls the boys over for a closer inspection of the wondrous machine. “Cars are for boys,” chirps one boy, looking for trouble. “Girls just ride,” chides another. Mrs. Searcy thinks otherwise. She brushes past the protesting Mr. Long, commandeers the car, and races off with Mandy in the death seat. “We bobbed across a stump at the edge of the yard and ran over a crape of myrtle bush—Mama flattened a pine sapling before tearing through the pasture fence and shimmying over a hill.” It is one lovely rural landscape Mrs. Searcy explores at high speed, depicted in autumn splendor in Rand’s watercolors. This boisterous tip of the hat toward equality of the sexes is as fit and funny as a family story ought to be. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15298-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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