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A prehistoric boy leaves his cave in search of warmth and discovers there’s no cave like his own. When Boy awakes in the cold morning of his home cave, his parents invite him to share their blankets. Boy doesn’t want to share and heads into the Stone Age landscape to find his own warm place. His search leads to a tree branch in a warm forest, but the resident saber-toothed tiger refuses to share. Boy moves on to warm grass, but the local woolly mammoth chases him away. Next, Boy finds warm red rocks, but the inhabiting dinosaur ejects him. Then Boy locates a warm mountain that turns into a hot volcano that sends him racing home, happy to share his parent’s blankets. Simple text and marvelous illustrations reminiscent of prehistoric cave paintings showcase Boy’s diminutive, solitary figure against a vast, empty world. Perfect for young adventurers about to enter their own brave new worlds. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-439-65106-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chicken House/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2004

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This reimagined telling has an engaging charm that rings true.

An imagining of an unlikely real-life episode in the life of absurdist Franz Kafka.

Theule follows the outline of the account: When Kafka meets an unhappy girl in a Berlin park in 1923 and learns her doll is lost, Kafka writes a series of letters from Soupsy, the doll, to Irma, the girl. The real letters and the girl’s identity have been lost to history; the invented letters describe a dazzling variety of adventures for Soupsy. Unfortunately, as the letters increase in excitement, Kafka’s health declines (he would die of tuberculosis in June 1924), and he must find a way to end Soupsy’s adventures in a positive way. In an author’s note, readers learn that Kafka chose to write that Soupsy was getting married. Theule instead opts to send the doll on an Antarctic expedition. Irma gets the message that she can do anything, and the final image shows her riding a camel, a copy of Metamorphosis peeking from a satchel. While kids may not care about Kafka, the short relationship between the writer and the little girl will keep their interest. Realizing that an adult can care so much about a child met in the park is empowering. The stylized illustrations, especially those set in the chilly Berlin fall, resemble woodcuts with a German expressionist look. The doll’s adventures look a little sweeter, with more red and blue added to the brown palette of the German scenes. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 23% of actual size.)

This reimagined telling has an engaging charm that rings true. (biographical note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11632-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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The author retells a French legend of the juggler who performs his tricks for the Madonna. In Olofsson’s version, he asks for a meal at a monastery. The Abbott reluctantly allows him in with strict orders for the monks to send him on his way as soon as he finishes his meal. But the monks are fascinated by the jester and ask him to perform. He begins his tricks, and by means of his flute, leads the way to the chapel where he jumps on the high altar and proceeds with the show. The Abbott, who has retired to his study, hears the noise and follows it to the chapel. Furious, he admonishes the monks, when one of them points to the revered picture of the Weeping Madonna above the altar. It is a miracle—for the Madonna is smiling. The Abbott realizes he was wrong and asks the jester to name a favor. The jester asks that anyone who asks for shelter or a meal at the monastery should be welcome, and so it happens. The jester becomes famous as everyone recognizes him for the jester who made the Weeping Madonna smile. The illustrations are stylized to evoke the design of medieval manuscripts and the red, blue, green, and soft yellow colors heighten the effect. The type seems to be handwritten and at times is difficult to read. Interestingly, the illustrations are also reminiscent of the cartoon drawings of Louis Slobodkin. The story is told in an awkward manner with stilted phrases that interrupt the smoothness of the text. There are no notes to identify this as a story based on a French legend. The Little Juggler, illustrated by Barbara Cooney (o.p.), is closest to this version, but her illustrations are more distinguished and she includes a note on the origin of the tale. The Clown of God, by Tomie dePaola (1978), also acknowledges this as a French legend, and in a foreword says that this was the original title by which the tale was known. DePaola’s and Cooney’s versions portray the juggler as a person devoted to the Madonna and he performs his tricks to give honor to her. Perhaps this version, with its emphasis more on generosity than adoration will appeal to a wider audience. (Picture book/folktale. 5-7)

Pub Date: April 5, 2002

ISBN: 91-29-65499-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: R&S/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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