This Zambian tale adapts well to the early-reader format.

THE TORTOISE'S GIFT

From the Animal Stories series , Vol. 1

Is a tortoise too small and slow to be of any help?

There’s a drought in Africa, and all of the animals are hungry, when old rabbit remembers a story about a tree. “When the rain stops falling,” he says, “this wonderful tree grows every animal’s favorite fruit.” Stylized, colorful acrylics portray the woeful animals as they seek out the tree, but once they find it, they can’t get it to grow any fruit. After some experimentation, they come to the conclusion that they need to find out its name. Only the mountain is old enough to remember, so one by one, the animals journey to the mountain and try to find out. The lion, elephant and chimps all make an attempt, but by the time each of them returns to the tree, they’ve become too pleased with themselves and too distracted to remember the name. Now it’s up to the tortoise. The other animals have no faith he can do it—he’s too small and slow—but his steadiness and calm focus may just save them all. Simple vocabulary, straightforward text and plenty of repetition make this a good choice for somewhat experienced readers, while the gentle humor, accessible lesson and appealing illustrations make this a tale that children will savor.

This Zambian tale adapts well to the early-reader format. (Folk tale/early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-774-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work.

SYLVIA'S SPINACH

A young spinach hater becomes a spinach lover after she has to grow her own in a class garden.

Unable to trade away the seed packet she gets from her teacher for tomatoes, cukes or anything else more palatable, Sylvia reluctantly plants and nurtures a pot of the despised veggie then transplants it outside in early spring. By the end of school, only the plot’s lettuce, radishes and spinach are actually ready to eat (talk about a badly designed class project!)—and Sylvia, once she nerves herself to take a nibble, discovers that the stuff is “not bad.” She brings home an armful and enjoys it from then on in every dish: “And that was the summer Sylvia Spivens said yes to spinach.” Raff uses unlined brushwork to give her simple cartoon illustrations a pleasantly freehand, airy look, and though Pryor skips over the (literally, for spinach) gritty details in both the story and an afterword, she does cover gardening basics in a simple and encouraging way.

Very young gardeners will need more information, but for certain picky eaters, the suggested strategy just might work. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9836615-1-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Readers to Eaters

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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