A tale about knowledge, power, and trust that reminds readers we used to speak with animals and still do—it already feels...

READ REVIEW

THE GIRL AND THE WOLF

A berry-picking excursion turns potentially frightening when a girl wanders from her mother and encounters a wolf.

Despite her mother’s warning to stay close as night approaches, the girl finds herself lost in the woods and feeling “cold and scared.” In classic wolf-narrative style, a “tall grey wolf with big white teeth” appears, but unlike those in many traditional tales, this lupine offers help. Only by balancing experiential knowledge (identifying berries that are safe to eat) with instinctual trust (following the wolf’s guidance) can the girl hope to reunite with her family. Poetic descriptions and spare prose combine with simple yet textured mixed-media illustrations to create a story with a deeply cinematic quality. Readers will likely infer the girl and her mother are First Nations peoples due to illustrator Flett’s (Cree-Métis) visual cues of brown skin, black hair, and moccasins and through author Vermette’s (Métis) textual reference of tying tobacco in cloth to leave as a thank-you. Muted, earth-toned images give depth while allowing the girl to stand out in her red dress. Though similar to stories from the oral tradition or even the European canon, this is “a completely made-up story.” It’s got a worthy message for any reader to enjoy, and Indigenous and First Nations readers will especially connect with characters who nourish traditional ways of knowing while existing in an active, contemporary present.

A tale about knowledge, power, and trust that reminds readers we used to speak with animals and still do—it already feels like a classic. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-926886-54-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Theytus Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

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Good bedtime reading.

POLAR BEAR ISLAND

Only polar bears are allowed on Polar Bear Island, until Kirby, a friendly, creative penguin, arrives on the scene.

On the verso of the first double-page spread, large white lettering proclaims against an azure sky: “Polar Bear Island was peaceful and predictable. Parker, the mayor, planned to keep it that way.” Below, Parker—paint can in left paw—can be seen facing his sign: “Welcome to Polar Bear Island. No Others Allowed.” On the recto, Kirby floats into view on an ice floe, with hat, scarf, and overstuffed suitcase. When Kirby arrives, Parker grudgingly allows her an overnight stay. However, she soon proves her worth to the other bears; she has invented Flipper Slippers, which keep extremities warm and reverse from skates to snowshoes. Now Kirby is allowed to stay and help the bears make their own Flipper Slippers. When her family shows up with more inventions, Parker feels compelled to give them a week. (Presumably, the penguins have made the 12,430-mile-trip from the South Pole to the North Pole, characterized merely as “a long journey.”) A minor crisis permanently changes Parker’s attitudes about exclusivity. The text is accessible and good fun to read aloud. The weakness of the ostensible theme of granting welcome to newcomers lies in the fact that all the newcomers are immediately, obviously useful to the bears. The cartoonlike, scratchboard-ish graphics are lighthearted and full of anthropomorphic touches.

Good bedtime reading. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2870-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard.

THE WIND PLAYS TRICKS

When a fierce wind descends on the barnyard, the animals hear some odd noises…and they’re coming from their own mouths.

The sudden wind unsettles all the animals on the farm just when they should be getting ready for sleep. Instead, they anxiously “cheep” and “cluck” and “oink” and “quack” and “moooo.” They shift nervously, pull together, and make all sorts of noises. All except Turtle, who tucks into his shell under an old log and sleeps. In the morning, though, the animals get a surprise. Pig says, “Cluck”; the Little Chicks say, “Neigh”; Horse crows, “Cock-a-doodle-doo.” How will they get their proper sounds back? Turtle has an idea, and he enjoys the process so much that he decides to open his mouth the next time the wind plays tricks at the farm: Perhaps he’ll catch a sound all his own. Chua’s cartoon barnyard is bright, and her animals, expressive, their faces and body language slightly anthropomorphized. The edges of the figures sometimes betray their digital origins. Though the tale is humorous and will give lots of opportunity for practicing animal sounds, the audience is hard to pin down, as the young children sure to enjoy mooing and clucking may not have the patience to sit through the somewhat lengthy text.

For patient listeners, a fun visit to a mixed-up barnyard. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-8735-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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