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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THE NAME JAR

Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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