ARTHUR AND GUEN

AN ORIGINAL TALE OF YOUNG CAMELOT

A boy named Arthur meets a spunky princess named Guenevere in the woods, when both are supposed to be at a tournament. They race and tumble about in the woods, but run into an unsavory lot who threaten their lives. From the waters of a lake an arm rises with a sword Arthur catches and uses to best the bad guys. Merlin appears, telling them it is not yet time and casting a spell so they will forget each other. The language is awkward, clichéd or forced by turns, and veers wildly between contemporary idiom and faux medievalism, even dipping into what must be inadvertent sexism. While Guen is described as adventurous herself (and beats Arthur in that race), one of the bandits runs off “screaming like a little girl.” Oleynikov’s illustrations are nicely amusing, however, and it is fun to watch Guen’s long braids come apart until she has wild gold locks hanging down her back. This small bright light aside, the whole never comes together in any satisfying way. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-525-47934-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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