THE VIDEO SHOP SPARROW

Skateboarding on New Year’s Day, sunflowers drooping over a fence hung with a holiday wreath, rooftop Santa Claus decorations—these things are not only possible but probable in New Zealand, where this story is set. Also probable, given the ubiquity of sparrows, is the conflict the book’s young protagonists, Harry and George, must resolve. The problem is that a sparrow, trapped in the video store and frantic for release, seems doomed. The store’s owner is on a two-week vacation and no adult in town cares much about sparrows because there are so many of them. But the two boys can’t ignore the sparrow, with its “special trusting look,” and when the town’s mayor, Mrs. McKenzie, recognizes a photo op, she steps in to rescue the sparrow. As for Harry and George, they’ve begun to notice that all sparrows have that special trusting look. This tale is well- plotted, although the outcome is never in doubt (and why can’t the boys pour bird seed or even water through the mail slot, where they drop off their video?). The illustrations, largely for their glimpse of life in New Zealand, combine with a text for a book that is inoffensive, competent, yet ultimately uninspiring. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56397-826-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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HOW MANY CANDLES?

PLB 0-688-16259-2 Time is relative, as Griffith’s pleasingly droll story makes clear, especially when a cat, a dog, a turtle, and a couple gnats get together to compare longevity. The dog, Alex, has made a cake for his friend, Robbie, a boy turning ten who never appears in these pages. A cat notes that Robbie’s years equal about 70 of hers, while a turtle figures that the same number equals about 8 of his years, because he can live to be 100. Two gnats buzz in to check on the doings, and they can’t even begin to comprehend the very notion of ten years—“ ‘Well, they’re gnats,’ said the cat. ‘Ten years to a boy is one billion years to a gnat.’ “ As Alex tries to determine how many candles are needed for each new configuration, the cat sniffs the cake: “This seems to be made of dog biscuits,” and the higher mathematics are put on the back burner while some sheer tomfoolery comes to the fore. This is a delightful exploration of dry humor and number-juggling, accompanied by some elegantly funny artwork. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16258-4

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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BONNIE'S BLUE HOUSE

This color-concept book from newcomer Asbury has much going for it. The spare text (``I am Bonnie and this is my cat, Bluebonnet'') and the two-color illustrations (black and blue on a bed of white) are simple, direct, and oddly comforting. Bonnie recounts a day in her life: She introduces readers to her home, cavorts with her pals in a tree fort and swimming pool, sups, watches TV, reads her dad a bedtime story. For the most part, Asbury has chosen the vehicles for his color with a nod toward familiarity—blue water, blueberry pie, blue eyes (small, ghoulish buttons)—and sometimes with real invention: the flicker of the cathode ray, the glow of moonlight. The blue tree, on the other hand, is discordant. Two companion volumes, Rusty's Red Vacation (ISBN 0-8050-4021-8) and Yolanda's Yellow School (- 4023-4), take Asbury's color message aptly into those realms. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-4022-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1997

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