ONE WINTER’S NIGHT

In this poetic Christmas Eve tale, Martha, a young cow about to give birth, seeks shelter, just as Joseph leads Mary, who’s in the same condition, on the same quest. After similar treks through a snowy night, mothers-to-be and parallel plotlines converge in a small shed for the timeless double miracle. Alternating monochromatic vignettes that resemble old-style etchings with larger scenes done with softened lines and muted colors, the Dillons elaborate on hints in the text to set the episode on an abandoned New England or Midwestern farm—relatively recently, to judge from such sparse, small details as a padlock and a cast-iron stove. Herman elevates the tone with occasional flights—“All was blackness. Darkest night. The winds fell from the four corners and shook the earth. Only the icy fire of the stars, distant and brilliant, kept watch in the darkness”—that complement the quiet strength of the illustrations. An old story, in an unusual setting. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-23418-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2003

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DIARY OF A SPIDER

The wriggly narrator of Diary of a Worm (2003) puts in occasional appearances, but it’s his arachnid buddy who takes center stage here, with terse, tongue-in-cheek comments on his likes (his close friend Fly, Charlotte’s Web), his dislikes (vacuums, people with big feet), nervous encounters with a huge Daddy Longlegs, his extended family—which includes a Grandpa more than willing to share hard-won wisdom (The secret to a long, happy life: “Never fall asleep in a shoe.”)—and mishaps both at spider school and on the human playground. Bliss endows his garden-dwellers with faces and the odd hat or other accessory, and creates cozy webs or burrows colorfully decorated with corks, scraps, plastic toys and other human detritus. Spider closes with the notion that we could all get along, “just like me and Fly,” if we but got to know one another. Once again, brilliantly hilarious. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-06-000153-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Joanna Cotler/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably...

LOST AND FOUND

A lad finds a penguin on his doorstep and resolutely sets out to return it in this briefly told import. 

Eventually, he ends up rowing it all the way back to Antarctica, braving waves and storms, filling in the time by telling it stories. But then, feeling lonely after he drops his silent charge off, he belatedly realizes that it was probably lonely too, and turns back to find it. Seeing Jeffers’s small, distant figures in wide, simply brushed land- and sea-scapes, young viewers will probably cotton to the penguin’s feelings before the boy himself does—but all’s well that ends well, and the reunited companions are last seen adrift together in the wide blue sea. 

Readers who (inexplicably) find David Lawrence’s Pickle and Penguin (2004) just too weird may settle in more comfortably with this—slightly—less offbeat friendship tale. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-399-24503-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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