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


From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


From the Who's in Your Book? series

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit.

Readers try to dislodge a monster from the pages of this emotive and interactive read-aloud.

“OH NO!” the story starts. “There’s a monster in your book!” The blue, round-headed monster with pink horns and a pink-tipped tail can be seen cheerfully munching on the opening page. “Let’s try to get him out,” declares the narrator. Readers are encouraged to shake, tilt, and spin the book around, while the monster careens around an empty background looking scared and lost. Viewers are exhorted to tickle the monster’s feet, blow on the page, and make a really loud noise. Finally, shockingly, it works: “Now he’s in your room!” But clearly a monster in your book is safer than a monster in your room, so he’s coaxed back into the illustrations and lulled to sleep, curled up under one page and cuddling a bit of another like a child with their blankie. The monster’s entirely cute appearance and clear emotional reactions to his treatment add to the interactive aspect, and some young readers might even resist the instructions to avoid hurting their new pal. Children will be brought along on the monster’s journey, going from excited, noisy, and wiggly to calm and steady (one can hope).

Playful, engaging, and full of opportunities for empathy—a raucous storytime hit. (Picture book. 2-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6456-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Close Quickview