Minimalism brilliantly brings a distant time near. (Picture book. 2-6)

KALI'S SONG

Thousands of years ago, a boy chooses to use his bow for music rather than hunting, charming animals and eventually his tribe with hypnotic song.

Winter’s friendly folk-art illustrations offer an appealingly uncomplicated visual narrative, one as effortlessly expressive as the cave paintings Kali’s mother creates on their rock walls. Trees, hunters, rolling hills and woolly mammoths appear with such unaffected clarity (thanks to generous spacing between shapes, figures and text) that they seem as authentic as realistic renderings. Children gain confidence interpreting pages so assuredly illustrated, and their feeling for Kali will grow as his life comes into focus. Winter’s rudimentary acrylic, pen and ink illustrations look a little like elementary-school dioramas (evergreens perch awkwardly on hillsides, frozen figures point with stubby fingers and mouths open, miniaturized hunting scenes seem almost silly), but her pictures (atop frayed, mottled handmade papers) brilliantly evoke primitive times. Each spread’s warmth, accessibility and kindliness make visiting a far-away century immensely pleasurable. Muted blues, browns and ruddy reds soften Kali’s world of hunting, caves and manly expectations, bringing him close to children as they lean close to listen. After weeks of ditching hunting practice and instead playing his bow until stars “c[o]me close to listen,” the day of the big hunt worries Kali and his readers alike. When his music stills both mammoths and their hunters, Kali's future changes forever.

Minimalism brilliantly brings a distant time near. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-375-87022-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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A snore for all but the most avid toddler paleontologists.

NIGHT NIGHT, DINO-SNORES

After busy days spent doing what dinos do, nine colorful dinosaurs happily bed down for the night protected by a loving adult dino.

Each sleepy dinosaur inhabits a fanciful environment, though it is unclear whether they are based on known information about where dinosaurs lived. There is nothing ferocious or threatening about these dinosaurs. Nor are they likely to excite young paleontologists, as the purpose of the book is to convince young children to go to sleep, just like each of the dinosaurs. The singsong-y verses don’t really work as poetry. Uneven meter makes for an awkward read-aloud experience, and forced rhymes (“Mom” and “calm”; “leaves” and “trees”) are a bit of a stretch. Similarly, touch-and-feel elements added to one of the dinosaurs on each spread feel arbitrary and are more distraction than successful additions. Even toddlers will wonder why only one of each set of dinosaurs has this tactile element. Each spread ends with a “Good night” followed by an alliterative nickname: “Dozing Diplos”; “Resting Raptors”; “Tiny Pteros”; “Snoozing Spinos.” This affectation will turn off adults with a low tolerance for cute and potentially confuse readers just beginning to learn dinosaur names.

A snore for all but the most avid toddler paleontologists. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: March 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-680105-48-3

Page Count: 22

Publisher: Tiger Tales

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for...

OLIVER AND HIS EGG

Oliver, of first-day-of-school alligator fame, is back, imagining adventures and still struggling to find balance between introversion and extroversion.

“When Oliver found his egg…” on the playground, mint-green backgrounds signifying Oliver’s flight into fancy slowly grow larger until they take up entire spreads; Oliver’s creature, white and dinosaurlike with orange polka dots, grows larger with them. Their adventures include sharing treats, sailing the seas and going into outer space. A classmate’s yell brings him back to reality, where readers see him sitting on top of a rock. Even considering Schmid’s scribbly style, readers can almost see the wheels turning in his head as he ponders the girl and whether or not to give up his solitary play. “But when Oliver found his rock… // Oliver imagined many adventures // with all his friends!” This last is on a double gatefold that opens to show the children enjoying the creature’s slippery curves. A final wordless spread depicts all the children sitting on rocks, expressions gleeful, wondering, waiting, hopeful. The illustrations, done in pastel pencil and digital color, again make masterful use of white space and page turns, although this tale is not nearly as funny or tongue-in-cheek as Oliver and His Alligator (2013), nor is its message as clear and immediately accessible to children.

Still, this young boy’s imagination is a powerful force for helping him deal with life, something that should be true for all children but sadly isn’t. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-7573-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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