THE TRANSFIGURED HART

The hart lived in a thicket close by a shimmering pool. He had been born in that thicket on a spring morning before the sun had quite gained the sky. . . He was an albino, born weak and white on that clear spring day." When loner Richard Plante, a sickly, bookish orphan of twelve, first sees the white hart "by the shimmering pool," he knows it's a unicorn. Heather Fielding, an "enjoyer," is less romantic: "An albino,' she breathed, and then was still." But when the two children meet "by the shimmering pool" (the phrase occurs over a dozen times) Richard talks Heather into believing his version. (" 'A unicorn,' Heather whispered, and then was still.") As each had already determined to tame the deer, they agree that she, as a pure maid, must lure it to her lap. Meanwhile of course the children discover each other—both, it seems, read Gerard Manley Hopkins—and Richard opens up. Then after an uncomfortable dinner when Heather inadvertently betrays their secret to her family and Richard spills Mr. Fielding's wine as he dashes off distressed, each is again convinced that (s)he alone must seek out the animal. But they meet again at midnight by that shimmering pool and the unicorn arrives on cue ("and where it stepped, flowers sprang up") and submits to the maiden. . . But then the hunters' horns signal the dawning of deer season and to save the hart Heather must untie the golden bridle (a yellow ribbon from her nightgown) and send the animal away. . . to a protected reserve. When Richard and Heather are awakened in the woods hours later, the wine-stained dinner napkin, tucked all the while in Heather's bodice, is white and fresh and fragrant. The relevance of this inescapably sexual symbolism however is less clear than the napkin, and the featured ideals of faith and purity, even solo responsibility and shared awakening, remain bloodless and archaic abstractions. To recognize this for the fluttery, self-consciously poetical fabrication it is, only compare the spring-in-November midnight miracle with the similar kitchen blooming in Pinkwater's Blue Moose, above.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1975

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: T.Y. Crowell

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1975

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Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires.

LITTLE BLUE TRUCK'S VALENTINE

Little Blue Truck feels, well, blue when he delivers valentine after valentine but receives nary a one.

His bed overflowing with cards, Blue sets out to deliver a yellow card with purple polka dots and a shiny purple heart to Hen, one with a shiny fuchsia heart to Pig, a big, shiny, red heart-shaped card to Horse, and so on. With each delivery there is an exchange of Beeps from Blue and the appropriate animal sounds from his friends, Blue’s Beeps always set in blue and the animal’s vocalization in a color that matches the card it receives. But as Blue heads home, his deliveries complete, his headlight eyes are sad and his front bumper droops ever so slightly. Blue is therefore surprised (but readers may not be) when he pulls into his garage to be greeted by all his friends with a shiny blue valentine just for him. In this, Blue’s seventh outing, it’s not just the sturdy protagonist that seems to be wilting. Schertle’s verse, usually reliable, stumbles more than once; stanzas such as “But Valentine’s Day / didn’t seem much fun / when he didn’t get cards / from anyone” will cause hitches during read-alouds. The illustrations, done by Joseph in the style of original series collaborator Jill McElmurry, are pleasant enough, but his compositions often feel stiff and forced.

Little Blue Truck keeps on truckin’—but not without some backfires. (Board book. 1-4)

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-27244-1

Page Count: 20

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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