Remarkable illustrations, brief retellings and clear morals do not quite make a satisfying collection.



Fourteen animal tales are presented in the same format as Quentin Blake’s Magical Tales (2012), with many of the same strengths and weaknesses.

These very brief tales do not all have happy or resolved endings, and no sources are given. Some clues to context and locale come in the stories, but readers may need to search elsewhere for the origins of others. “The Singing Tortoise” is a West African tale and “The Turkey Girl,” a Zuni Cinderella with an unhappy ending. (Some of these tales were previously collected in The Singing Tortoise, 1993.) Blake’s squiggly and expressive pictures are the selling point, describing with ragged brio the hippos and the coyotes, the cobras and the ravens, the princesses and shepherds. The coyote who cannot remember the song the locust has taught him is a jagged mass of frustrated lines and angles. “The Impudent Bird” of that title, with his borrowed colors and feathers, contrasts nicely with the befuddled king and hardworking tailor, both of whom the bird hoodwinks. One of the few stories that is both satisfying and happy is the Italian “Monkey Palace,” wherein twin princes both end up with a kingdom to rule as a consequence of acts of kindness and honor.

Remarkable illustrations, brief retellings and clear morals do not quite make a satisfying collection. (Folk tales. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84365-195-6

Page Count: 124

Publisher: Pavilion/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale.


After a tsunami devastates their habitat in the Salish Sea, a young orca and her brother embark on a remarkable adventure.

Vega’s matriarchal family expects her to become a hunter and wayfinder, with her younger brother, Deneb, protecting and supporting her. Invited to guide her family to their Gathering Place to hunt salmon, Vega’s underwater miscalculations endanger them all, and an embarrassed Vega questions whether she should be a wayfinder. When the baby sister she hoped would become her life companion is stillborn, a distraught Vega carries the baby away to a special resting place, shocking her grieving family. Dispatched to find his missing sister, Deneb locates Vega in the midst of a terrible tsunami. To escape the waters polluted by shattered boats, Vega leads Deneb into unfamiliar open sea. Alone and hungry, the young siblings encounter a spectacular giant whale and travel briefly with shark-hunting orcas. Trusting her instincts and gaining emotional strength from contemplating the vastness of the sky, Vega knows she must lead her brother home and help save her surviving family. In alternating first-person voices, Vega and Deneb tell their harrowing story, engaging young readers while educating them about the marine ecosystem. Realistic black-and-white illustrations enhance the maritime setting.

A dramatic, educational, authentic whale of a tale. (maps, wildlife facts, tribes of the Salish Sea watershed, environmental and geographical information, how to help orcas, author’s note, artist’s note, resources) (Animal fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299592-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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