Detailed and engaging but not quite complete.

THE DOLLIES PUT ON A PLAY

The story of a Nativity play production, an addition to the Dollies series, doubles as a picture book for little ones and an introduction to stagecraft for older children.

Leech uses this volume to allow exploration of a topic through short verbal descriptions, albeit ones that use technically correct language, and color photographs of costumed dolls on custom sets, with all the details—from the hairdos to the props—inviting close study. The dolls look like young children, but each is given its own hairdo and fashion sense. The book begins with a design meeting, at which the show’s director approves the set designer’s sketches. The process continues with auditions, publicity, rehearsals, the technical dress rehearsal, the pre-show choir rehearsal and opening night, all interwoven with job descriptions for the stage manager, set designer, costume designer, sound designer, and lighting designer and crew. The playbill closes the story and doubles as the credits for the book. Readers are likely to enjoy the way the props serve to deepen understanding. While the youngest readers can be entertained by identifying items in the images, like the kazoo, recorder, xylophone, piano and drum in the sound design studio, older readers will enjoy reading the stage manager’s sticky notes and identifying the sources of the set designer’s artistic inspiration, including works by Piero della Francesca and Fra Angelico. Though the play is never named, the set design, the set, the costumes and the referenced Nativity scenes hung on the wall provide clues. The book references aspects of the theater that it doesn’t mention in words. For example, it makes a nice distinction between street clothes and costumes both in showing Mary in her pink bathrobe and slippers in her dressing room, as well as in costume on stage, and also by showing the backs of the audience members’ heads in the photograph of the performance. With all the attention to detail, including mention of the little-known role of the dramaturge, it’s odd that the book omits any reference to props or the prop master. Concessions are mentioned but not the box office, and the house manager is missing as well.

Detailed and engaging but not quite complete.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0984421411

Page Count: 32

Publisher: The Home Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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