THAT PESKY RAT

A winsomely beady-eyed rat yearns for a loving home in this rather odd feel-good offering. Living in “trash can number 3, Grubby Alley” isn’t great at the best of times, but it’s made even worse by the occasional emptying of his “belongings into a big truck.” He lies awake wondering what it would be like to be a pet, explaining that “[m]ost of all I would like to have a name, instead of just that pesky rat.” After imagining himself in the places of various friends who do have homes and weighing the pros and cons (Pierre the chinchilla, for instance, lives the high life in a plush apartment, but he also is subjected to weekly baths), the rat puts an ad for an owner in the window of a pet shop—with unexpected results. The typeface performs such wildly acrobatic feats across the page that it is occasionally difficult to find, let alone read, but by and large its expansions and contractions help in creating the rat’s distinctive voice. Child’s (What Planet Are You From, Clarice Bean, p. 177, etc.) mixed-media illustrations are as energetic as ever—the far-from-warm-and-fuzzy rat himself is outlined in black with an appropriately pointy snout, and his fur is rendered with photographic collages of real “fur”—but there’s a certain tameness to the story. Readers may find themselves wondering if they want this delightfully spiky antihero to become just another house pet, but there is an undeniable appeal to his quest, and a twist at the end saves it from the treacle jar. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7636-1873-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

I WISH YOU MORE

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity.

A collection of parental wishes for a child.

It starts out simply enough: two children run pell-mell across an open field, one holding a high-flying kite with the line “I wish you more ups than downs.” But on subsequent pages, some of the analogous concepts are confusing or ambiguous. The line “I wish you more tippy-toes than deep” accompanies a picture of a boy happily swimming in a pool. His feet are visible, but it's not clear whether he's floating in the deep end or standing in the shallow. Then there's a picture of a boy on a beach, his pockets bulging with driftwood and colorful shells, looking frustrated that his pockets won't hold the rest of his beachcombing treasures, which lie tantalizingly before him on the sand. The line reads: “I wish you more treasures than pockets.” Most children will feel the better wish would be that he had just the right amount of pockets for his treasures. Some of the wordplay, such as “more can than knot” and “more pause than fast-forward,” will tickle older readers with their accompanying, comical illustrations. The beautifully simple pictures are a sweet, kid- and parent-appealing blend of comic-strip style and fine art; the cast of children depicted is commendably multiethnic.

Although the love comes shining through, the text often confuses in straining for patterned simplicity. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4521-2699-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

RAPUNZEL

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your dreads! Isadora once again plies her hand using colorful, textured collages to depict her fourth fairy tale relocated to Africa. The narrative follows the basic story line: Taken by an evil sorceress at birth, Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tower; Rapunzel and the prince “get married” in the tower and she gets pregnant. The sorceress cuts off Rapunzel’s hair and tricks the prince, who throws himself from the tower and is blinded by thorns. The terse ending states: “The prince led Rapunzel and their twins to his kingdom, where they were received with great joy and lived happily every after.” Facial features, clothing, dreadlocks, vultures and the prince riding a zebra convey a generic African setting, but at times, the mixture of patterns and textures obfuscates the scenes. The textile and grain characteristic of the hewn art lacks the elegant romance of Zelinksy’s Caldecott version. Not a first purchase, but useful in comparing renditions to incorporate a multicultural aspect. (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-399-24772-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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