MOONBIRD

From the magical land of the silvery bubble-blowing Moonchild, a bubble popping in little Prince Orla’s ear suddenly makes him profoundly deaf. His worried, joyless parents hire several ineffectual fools to restore their son to their hearing world. The most ridiculous looking one is ready to tie elephant-sized ears on the prince’s head. The royal soothsayer understands immediately that the child comprehends the world with his eyes, and the soothsayer is commandingly credible, because he wears magical symbols: star, tree and bird. Graceful Moonbird comes to the rescue, flying the prince to a magical school where a gazelle and silver monkey teach him “eye music,” and tell him he can teach his parents hand talking and silent mouthing. However, his parents are clueless until Moonchild blows an enormous bubble that bursts over their kingdom, changing their intricate yet barren landscape and their hearts. Ray’s luminous art and lyrical text are heavy with symbolism: Those who understand sign language and the powers of observation are adorned in the most silver trees, birds and stars, and others find adornment as they learn. Young readers will understand with help the clear message that sign language education for children who are deaf is essential to their healthy growth, and that it is a tremendous step forward for all people to increase their observation skills to learn it. But this heavy, controversial message won’t be swallowed easily. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-60589-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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THE MONSTER WHO ATE DARKNESS

Though bedroom monsters are a dime a dozen, this one’s a bit different. Looking like a black wombat with a bright-red clown nose, the Creature that lurks under wakeful young Jo-Jo’s bed is but the size of an ant. A hungry one, however, who starts absorbing all the darkness it can find. Going the “Fat Cat” route, the monster proceeds to swell as it sucks the dark not just from the bedroom but from the entire world and beyond—leaving confusion and dismay in its wake, until “There were no shadows and hardly any dreams. There was only the light. The stark and staring light.” Liao, a popular Taiwanese illustrator, creates polished, sometimes wordless cartoon scenes featuring a monster whose only scary characteristic is its eventual humongous size. Ultimately Jo-Jo’s tears draw the behemoth back to Earth, where a cuddle and a “darkness lullaby” puts them both to sleep and allows all the darkness to leach back into the universe. Not exactly entropy in action, but a cozy, if lengthy, bedtime tale nonetheless. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3859-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2008

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SEÑOR MUNDO AND ME

A HAPPY BIRTHDAY STORY

Loosely arranged around a birthday celebration, this meandering tale never finds its focus. Lizzie is stranded on a deserted island with nothing but her “ever-busy scientist” parents and a giant computer. In her frustration and loneliness, she and her pal Starfish decide to run away. Se§or Mundo (a personified cartoon of Earth) offers them a place to go—the entire world. Other planets vie for her attention, slinging insults at each other until Lizzie chooses Mars for its red color. Hurled through space, she finds Mars to be inhospitable and has to be rescued by Se§or Mundo. Following side trips under the sea and into the jungle, Lizzie returns for a no-place-like-home birthday bash. Whiny Lizzie is impossible to like; Mariscal’s cartoons have the energetic lines of comic-book art, and provide a fun grand finale. The book never achieves magic, but offers some satisfying glimpses of real adventure. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8109-4176-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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