An absolute delight, featuring a quirky, resourceful doll heroine.

The Adventures of Maesee Peek

In Hébert’s illustrated debut children’s book, a cloth doll with a special gold monocle, watch, and bustle gets lost and goes on adventures.

Elsie’s mother made a doll named Maesee Peek from scraps of tapestry and lace, giving her a Victorian bustle and big purple hair. (She got her name because Elsie kept asking, “May I see? Just a peek” during the doll’s construction.) Elsie’s father added some important touches, including a gold monocle so that Maesee “will always see where to go,” and a gold watch on a chain so she’ll “always know when it is time to come home.” Elsie adores Maesee and is never without her—until the day she accidentally leaves the doll behind after an outdoor picnic. Maesee tumbles onto the muddy bank of a pond lined with cattails, and after several twists and turns, she gets loaded onto a ship filled with art and precious objects and sent across the sea. A storm arises and the ship’s contents go overboard, but luckily, Elsie’s clever mother crafted Maesee’s bustle from Elsie’s worn-out flotation device, and the doll floats long enough to be picked up by a sea gull and then found by two little girls vacationing in an Irish castle. Hébert offers an appealing heroine and dramatic plot twists and vividly renders such moments as when the container ship full of artwork gets subsumed into the ocean. Especially pleasing is the narrator, who respects children’s intelligence; for example, when seawater drifts into her monocle, Maesee thinks they’re “Sneaky little creatures coming here to hide before the menu recommends a delicious assortment of zooplankton.” Historical information enriches the story, as when the leprechaun-ish concierge comments on Irish lace: “The patterns were carefully guarded secrets passed along only to the daughters of the original women artists who created them. We are extremely proud of the collection.” Lemaire’s illustrations ably capture the book’s magical, one-of-a-kind spirit.

An absolute delight, featuring a quirky, resourceful doll heroine.

Pub Date: March 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-6765-3

Page Count: 36

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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