Sweet, though oddly mixed of message.

THE WEE SEAL

Simple line drawings with watercolor accompany this gentle tale of how young Jamie’s awareness of the life cycle of a baby seal lying on the beach near the boy’s home empowers him to turn back ignorant, potentially harmful tourists.

The book begins poetically: “It came in the night / when the world was asleep, / that strange white stone on the beach.” Jamie discovers that the “stone” is actually a baby seal, and for days, he greets the pup morning and evening, knowing that the “wee seal’s mum” cares for her baby each night. But the pup attracts the wrong kind of attention. An amusing double-page spread shows an aerial view of tourists leaning in too closely over the bemused seal, after which Jamie rushes in with a sign that proclaims, “the seal has a Mum. Leeve alon plees. Jamie.” Jamie’s diligence gives the seal time to shed its baby fur and grow, following its mother’s song into the sea when it has reached proper maturity. Ironically, Jamie’s backyard beach sports the same litter daily, including one of the most reviled human killers of wildlife: a balloon. The text further acknowledges human waste without censure when the pup has to “rock all the way round a broken creel” as it returns to sea. This presents a potent disconnect in a boy (and a book) otherwise environmentally minded.

Sweet, though oddly mixed of message. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-7825-0020-9

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Floris

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after.

THE THREE LITTLE SUPERPIGS AND THE GINGERBREAD MAN

Why have fairy tales lasted so long? Maybe it’s because they change with every teller.

It takes surprisingly little effort to turn the Three Little Pigs into superheroes. The Big Bad Wolf basically started out as a supervillain, with the ability to blow a house down, and the pigs had to perform spectacular feats to outwit him. In this picture book, the wolf, locked in the Happily Never After tower, devises a plot to escape. Using rotten eggs and spicy ginger, he creates the Gingerbread Man, who makes his way to a baking contest where the three pigs and other fairy-tale characters are competing to win the key to the city. The Gingerbread Man grabs the key, and not even superhero pigs are fast enough to catch him, but with their secret weapon—mustard (which one of the pigs also uses to bake cookies)—they save the day. The morals: Evil never triumphs, and mustard cookies are delicious. The book’s charm is in the details. There are splotches of mustard on the cookies featured on the endpapers, and a sly-looking mouse is hiding on many of the pages. The story even manages to include more than a dozen fairy-tale figures without seeming frenzied. Evans’ use of shading is so skillful that it almost seems possible to reach out and touch the characters. Most of the human characters are light-skinned. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Superheroes, and readers, will live happily-ever-after. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-338-68221-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here.

ONE LOVE

A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus.

Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.”

Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4521-0224-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more