Timeless wisdom, splendidly decked out.

READ REVIEW

AESOP'S FABLES

Huge, extravagantly designed and detailed pop-up illustrations for 10 classic cautionary tales showcase a trio of uncommon talents.

Beatrice and Whatley collaborate seamlessly on the visuals, producing in traditional outdoor or rural settings a cast of realistic but broadly expressive animal figures. Many of these, particularly the wonderfully snarky-looking goose laying gold-foil eggs and the frantic, massive lion that lunges up at viewers through an entangling net as his spread opens, will elicit involuntary “Whoa”s of startled admiration. The fables, one per opening except for a miraculously un-crowded quintet gathered on the central spread, are paired to large central tableaux and smaller but only slightly less complex pop-ups in corner booklets. All are pithy versions of the usual Aesopian suspects written in a fluid, contemporary style (“You do indeed have a beautiful voice,” the fox assures the cheeseless crow, “but you don’t seem to have a brain!”) with some morals embedded and others laid out explicitly. Veteran paper engineer that he is, Moerbeek concocts ingeniously multilayered, interwoven constructions that are vulnerable to grabby little hands but, with careful supervision, sturdy enough to survive multiple shared readings.

Timeless wisdom, splendidly decked out. (Pop-up fables. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4169-7146-7

Page Count: 14

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity

THE CAT MAN OF ALEPPO

When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.

Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood empties—except for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they’re left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them.

A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity . (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-1378-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders.

THE BIG BOOK OF THE BLUE

Denizens of the deep crowd oversized pages in this populous gallery of ocean life.

The finny and tentacled sea creatures drifting or arrowing through Zommer’s teeming watercolor seascapes are generally recognizable, and they are livened rather than distorted by the artist’s tendency to place human eyes on the same side of many faces, Picasso-like. Headers such as “Ink-teresting” or “In for the krill” likewise add a playful tone to the pithy comments on anatomical features or behavioral quirks that accompany the figures (which include, though rarely, a white human diver). The topical spreads begin with an overview of ocean families (“Some are hairy, some have scales, some have fins and some are boneless and brainless!”), go on to introduce select animals in no particular order from sea horses and dragonets to penguins and pufferfish, then close with cautionary remarks on chemical pollution and floating plastic. The author invites readers as they go to find both answers to such questions as “Why does a crab run sideways?” and also a small sardine hidden in some, but not all, of the pictures. For the latter he provides a visual key at the end, followed by a basic glossary.

A refreshing dive past some of our world’s marine wonders. (index) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-500-65119-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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