MADELINE AT THE WHITE HOUSE

“In an old white house in Washington, D.C., / Lived as lonely a girl as there can be….” Madeline and her cohorts revisit America in the latest sequel from Bemelmans’ grandson—this time to join the president’s solitary daughter for Easter egg–rolling on the White House lawn. That night (as Miss Clavel and the other girls sleep off the effects of too much party food), Penelope and Madeline enjoy an aerial nighttime tour of the city’s monuments courtesy of the magician introduced in Madeline’s Christmas. As before (Madeline and the Cats of Rome, 2008, etc.), Marciano closes with a note linking this spinoff to his grandfather’s unfinished work. He also pairs verse that channels his esteemed progenitor’s in tone and occasionally forced rhyme to illustrations that make a close but not exact match in style. Sandwiched between endpaper views of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Bemelmans is buried in Arlington), this homage offers a reasonably seamless continuation of the classic series, far closer in lilt and spirit than, for instance, the recent spate of Corduroy and Curious George travesties. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-670-01228-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age.

THE THANKFUL BOOK

Parr focuses his simplistic childlike art and declarative sentences on gratitude for the pleasures and wonders of a child’s everyday life.

Using images of both kids and animals, each colorful scene in bold primary colors declaims a reason to be thankful. “I am thankful for my hair because it makes me unique” shows a yellow-faced child with a wild purple coiffure, indicating self-esteem. An elephant with large pink ears happily exclaims, “I am thankful for my ears because they let me hear words like ‘I love you.’ ” Humor is interjected with, “I am thankful for underwear because I like to wear it on my head.” (Parents will hope that it is clean, but potty-humor–loving children probably won’t care.) Children are encouraged to be thankful for feet, music, school, vacations and the library, “because it is filled with endless adventures,” among other things. The book’s cheery, upbeat message is clearly meant to inspire optimistic gratitude; Parr exhorts children to “remember some [things to be thankful for] every day.”

Uncomplicated and worthwhile for any age. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-18101-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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