THE UGLY DUCKLING

Crossley-Holland’s stately retelling of a familiar tale hews closely to Hans Christian Andersen’s original text, simplifying and tightening the plot elements and excising some of the more mawkish sentimentality. The language is a treat for the ears: “The storks went walking on their long red legs through the shining fields, and the sunlight settled on the shoulders of the castle.” The cruelty of the world is presented alongside the beauty, as the barnyard animals bite and peck the “duckling,” and the guns of hunters mow down a “great skein of wild geese.” So’s (It’s Simple, Said Simon, 2001, etc.) economical watercolor brushstrokes create barnyards bustling with activity and icy winter landscapes with equal skill and expression. Most of the illustrations depict scenes with many details, however, and with few exceptions, the “duckling” is relegated to a tiny segment of a crowded composition. This is at odds with a text that focuses so tightly on its subject, and renders him visually characterless. Words and pictures also sometimes contradict each other with the aging of the “duckling”—one notable example is an illustration of a fuzzy little cygnet accompanying text that indicates the bird has reached the age of flight. Those who own Jerry Pinkney’s 1999 adaptation will find that this offering is far from duplicative, both textually and pictorially, but despite its lovely text and the skill of its illustrative technique, it will still likely be an additional purchase. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81319-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A rollicking tale of rivalry.

IT HAPPENED ON SWEET STREET

Sweet Street had just one baker, Monsieur Oliphant, until two new confectionists move in, bringing a sugar rush of competition and customers.

First comes “Cookie Concocter par excellence” Mademoiselle Fee and then a pie maker, who opens “the divine Patisserie Clotilde!” With each new arrival to Sweet Street, rivalries mount and lines of hungry treat lovers lengthen. Children will delight in thinking about an abundance of gingerbread cookies, teetering, towering cakes, and blackbird pies. Wonderfully eccentric line-and-watercolor illustrations (with whites and marbled pastels like frosting) appeal too. Fine linework lends specificity to an off-kilter world in which buildings tilt at wacky angles and odd-looking (exclusively pale) people walk about, their pantaloons, ruffles, long torsos, and twiglike arms, legs, and fingers distinguishing them as wonderfully idiosyncratic. Rotund Monsieur Oliphant’s periwinkle complexion, flapping ears, and elongated nose make him look remarkably like an elephant while the women confectionists appear clownlike, with exaggerated lips, extravagantly lashed eyes, and voluminous clothes. French idioms surface intermittently, adding a certain je ne sais quoi. Embedded rhymes contribute to a bouncing, playful narrative too: “He layered them and cherried them and married people on them.” Tension builds as the cul de sac grows more congested with sweet-makers, competition, frustration, and customers. When the inevitable, fantastically messy food fight occurs, an observant child finds a sweet solution amid the delicious detritus.

A rollicking tale of rivalry. (Picture book. 4-8 )

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-91885-2

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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