Basing his narrative on the experiences of his wife's mother, who was born in Russia in 1907 and escaped westward in a harrowing journey during WW II, Cech tells a moving story as it might be told to a grandchild at bedtime. When Grandmother was a girl, a grateful gypsy cured her of terrible headaches; when she was newly married, a less friendly gypsy told her a time would come when she would ``pray to endure one more hour...when your every footstep will be pain.'' Indeed, the Revolution brings famine and death; during the war, carrying a baby whose innocence helps win them many kindnesses, she and her husband make their way to America. Much is left out, of course, but what remains is an authentic picture of tragedy endured by dint of perseverance and good will. The artist's decorative style, abundant with patterns and borders, recalls both folk art and the mannered, richly evocative paintings of Chagall. Without detracting from the story's somber dignity, the pervasive floral designs subtly lighten the mood and provide a reminder that joy may prevail—as it does here in a happy ending that goes beyond the gypsy's prophecy. A compelling, thoughtful blend of the light and the dark in human experience, skillfully shaped into a tale suitable for sharing with young children. (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-718135-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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