THE FIVE FINGERS AND THE MOON

Kurt's fairy tale takes place in Elsewhere, beyond the horizon, with its queen and assorted dwarves, brownies, elves, and other kindred souls. They sleep by day and live by night in the light of the moon. When the moon stalls one night, Elsewhere's citizens panic: The grain will stop growing, the cows will stop giving milk, etc. The five fingers are summoned (`` `There's nothing the five fingers of the hand can't do,' said an old fairy with a bent back'') and they go about working their various talents—Thumbkin's strength, Pointer's thieving, Long Man's height, Gold Man's healing, and Pinkie's storytellingto set the community to rights. Fantastical, problematical, and portentousthis is good solid folk material, with a suitably peculiar cast of characters. Blau, in his first book, brings out the story's eccentricities in craggy, shadowy illustrations, wrapped in color and tinged with menace; it's hard to care about this odd place, Elsewhere, but the illustrations have the austere beauty of a light in darkness. (Picture book/folklore. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1997

ISBN: 1-55858-801-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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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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THE KOREAN CINDERELLA

A retelling based on three of the ``half a dozen'' Korean Cinderella variants: ``Pear Blossom's'' stepmother calls her ``Little Pig,'' barely feeds her, and assigns her impossible tasks (filling a cracked jug), but the girl is helped by magical animals (a giant ox that weeds a rice paddy for her). A young magistrate, ``struck by her beauty,'' identifies her at a village festival by her lost sandal, and thus she makes an honorable marriage. The simple tale is retold in a vigorous, rather dramatic style. Heller, whose illustrations are based on her research in Korea, offers bold montages of figures and patterns in a striking array of intense colors. Her facial expressions are less expertly crafted than her realistic animals, sculptural draperies, and decorative traditional motifs, while the mix of styles leads to some cluttered effects; still, an attractive setting for a worthy variant. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-020432-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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