LUCY DOVE

In an original story with Celtic roots, a superstitious laird believes that “a pair of trousers sewn by the light of the full moon in the graveyard of old St. Andrew’s church” will bring him luck. He offers a sackful of gold to the one who sews the trousers. Despite the rumors that St. Andrew’s is haunted by a fearsome beast, and despite the fact that those who have gone after the beast have never returned, Lucy Dove—a seamstress with her eyes on a comfortable retirement, and one cool customer—answers the laird’s challenge. She heads for the churchyard during “the twilight space between sunset and moonrise,” and sits down to sew. When the monster—all pointed teeth, blazing eyes, and ropey neck—rises from the grave beside her, Lucy keeps right on sewing, commenting that he must be “the wee bogle” featured in children’s bedtime stories. Lucy’s cheek buys her just enough time to finish the trousers and hightail it to the laird to collect her reward, with the furious bogle in hot pursuit. Told in lilting, colorful language, Del Negro presents a woman with mettle enough for beasts mythical and real, while Gore’s sweeping acrylic illustrations, overlaid with a hatching of fine white lines, provide a properly spooky setting of twisting branches, cracked gravestones, and looming ravens. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7894-2514-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

THANK YOU, MR. FALKER

An autobiographical tribute to Polacco’s fifth-grade teacher, the first adult to recognize her learning disability and to help her learn to read. Trisha begins kindergarten with high hopes, but as the years go by she becomes convinced she is dumb. She can draw well, but is desperately frustrated by math and reading. In fifth grade, Mr. Falker silences the children who taunt Trisha, and begins, with a reading teacher, to help her after school. A thank-you to a teacher who made a difference is always welcome, but this one is unbearably sentimental. Although the perspective is supposed to be Trisha’s, many sentences give away the adult viewpoint, e.g., “She didn’t notice that Mr. Falker and Miss Plessy had tears in their eyes.” The extent to which Trisha limns her own misery and deifies Mr. Falker (complete with a classroom version of a “He who is without sin among you” scene) is mawkish. Mr. Falker’s implicit sense of fairness—“Right from the start, it didn’t seem to matter to Mr. Falker which kids were the cutest. Or the smartest. Or the best at anything”—is contradicted when Trisha is the object of praise: Mr. Falker, watching her draw, whispers, “This is brilliant . . . absolutely brilliant. Do you know how talented you are?” Polacco’s disdain for all the other teachers and the students intrudes on Trisha’s more profoundly heartbreaking perspective; the book lacks the author’s usual flair for making personal stories universal. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-23166-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1998

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more