What hath Bettelheim wrought? We have here an old blind gypsy and the tales she spins for passers-by—seven stories of a mythic, usually sexual, nature, each tailored to its purchaser, all of them symbolizations of their situations, none of them construable on any other level. In the most mundane sense, it's as if Aesop were telling the story of the fox and the grapes to an envious soul. Thus, a cold, imperious husband is presented with "Man of Rock, Man of Stone" in which a quarrier, angered by his wife's insistent wish for a child (after their wedding: "Will we make a child tonight?"), tries to make a child of stone; but, unaccustomed to looking at children, he makes a man in his own image—which, taking fright, slays him. This is followed by "The Tree's Wife"—told to a sad young woman in black and her little son—wherein a rich young widow, rejecting her fortune-hunting suitors, declares she'd "sooner wed this tree," sees it turn into a man of birch, couples with him ("When his mouth came down on hers, she smelled the damp woody odor of his breath"), bears a child—and, after the tree dies (going, futilely, for a midwife), is lifted skyward with her child by the nearest birch. Says the widowed dream-buyer to her child: "Come. We will go to your father's people. They will take us in, I know that now." The framing device is hokey, the tales are realtively trite (but sententiously delivered) embodiments of classic motifs, the reader can only take them or leave them—not ponder their meaning for himself/herself. And goodness knows there's little to delight in.

Pub Date: April 1, 1979

ISBN: 0529055171

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Collins

Review Posted Online: May 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1979

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves


A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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