DOG TALES

Unreal, occasionally surreal, these deeply fractured fairy tales feature doggy characters pawing through such stories as “Jack Russell and the Beanstalk” and “Rapawnzul.” Terrible puns tickle the text, and two supercilious cats, drawn only in black-and- white, make rude comments from the margins. Vividly colored and wildly exaggerated canines and humans populate the improbable illustrations, where the princess climbs to the top of her 20 mattresses on a ladder that is adorned with cowboy-boot feet (the story involves a Pekinese rather than a pea) and where Cindersmelly is rescued from stinkiness by a vacuum-cleaner salesman. The “Doberman’s New Clothes” explains why dogs don’t wear any, and the lead in “Little Red Riding Hound” outsmarts not a wolf, but a cat. There is only one punchline here, and children can probably handle the irony and camp, but will they want to? (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-58246-011-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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  • SPONSORED PLACEMENT

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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GORILLA WALK

PLB 0-688-16510-9 This true adventure in the jungles of Uganda on the trail of the mountain gorilla will make armchair travelers shiver, and leave the squeamish grateful not to be trudging through mucky ankle-deep swamps, traversing giant fallen fig tree bridges over ravines that drop hundreds of feet into rocks and thorns, and coping with dreaded stinging safari ants. The Lewins traveled to Uganda in 1997, to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for an opportunity to view the mountain gorillas that have been habituated. Every step of the way the authors provide thumbnail sketches of plants and animals, and a detailed description of the journey. The gorillas appear in watercolor paintings that are dramatic and realistic, for a picture- book adventure not to be missed, and, with the continuing unrest in the area, perhaps not to be replicated any time soon. (map, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16509-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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