THE PRINCESS AND THE PAINTER

Johnson (Bertie on the Beach, 1981, etc.) had a great idea: Take one of the world's most famous paintings and create a story around the characters portrayed in it. She chose Diego Vel†zquez's Las Meninas (1656), the group portrait that features the five-year-old Infanta Margarita of Spain and in which dwarves, ladies in waiting, and even the painter himself figure. Johnson follows the Infanta through a not entirely typical day, because this will be the day she will finally see Don Diego's painting. She dresses, has lessons, plays, and dines. When she is at last allowed to view the painting, she is surprised and delighted to find that she is ``the most important person of all.'' Unlike the painting, the story is indescribably dull—and completely unimaginative. The illustrations prop it up, but even their charm cannot keep this book from being a dismal failure. Johnson's concept and pictures are marvelous, but they don't compensate for this ineptly written tale. (Historical fiction/Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-374-36118-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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