NIÑO’S MASK

Winter (Beatrix, above, etc.) communicates her abiding interest in Mexican culture with this wonderfully atmospheric, all-dialogue tale of a child who leads a ritual chase in his village’s annual Fiesta of the Tigre (jaguar). His parents bid him wait until he’s older, but so great is little Niño’s determination to participate in the upcoming festival that he cuts, carves, and paints a wooden dog’s mask with minimal adult help. Evoking Mexican folk art, both with characteristic motifs and saturated colors, Winter follows her young artist as he discovers the animal “hidden” within his rough block. He dons the finished mask, chases the costumed “tigre” through fields and village streets, then trips it up at last, earning both general acclaim from fellow villagers, and a guarantee of good crops for the coming year. The hand-lettered text, placed in balloons, is sprinkled with Spanish (superfluously translated at the end), and Winter depicts more masks and costumes in a closing gallery. Children of any cultural background will enjoy this glimpse of Niño’s world, and understand the profound pleasure he takes in creating art. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8037-2807-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE MORNING

This longer story by Nobel Laureate Buck, originally published in 1955, is presented for the first time as an illustrated work for children. Early one Christmas, an older man thinks back to his best Christmas morning in the year that he was 15 and living on his family dairy farm. That year, the narrator of the story, Rob, surprised his father with a special, heart-felt gift by getting up in the middle of the night to do all the milking by himself so his father could have Christmas morning off. The boy’s joy in planning the surprise for his father and the touching appreciation, pride, and love in the father’s gratitude are effectively conveyed in both the moving text and in Buehner’s (Snowmen at Night, p. 1385, etc.) realistic paintings. His deep-toned, striking illustrations are mainly set at night, with snowy farm scenes lit only by glowing lantern and shining star. One spread shows the Nativity scene with puffy clouds in a turquoise evening sky shaped like angel heralds, and the following memorable spread of the barn at night repeats this element with subtle clouds in the shapes of the participants in the manger setting. Buck’s sentimental but touching story memorably illustrates the value of a gift created with love, a gift like Buehner’s. (illustrator’s note) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-688-16267-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

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