Not easy or entirely successful but, still, a philosophic tale with worthy and venerable roots, certainly worthy of...

THE BUTTERFLY BOY

"Drawn from the writings of Chuang Tzu [fourth century B.C.],...the Butterfly Philosopher," a tale that explicates the idea that wisdom may lie in an altogether fresh point of view.

The first part of the story is somewhat confusing: "a boy...dreamed he was a butterfly, and, as a butterfly, he always dreamed he was a boy." His literally acting like a butterfly causes "trouble"—when he tries to fly above a buffalo, he lands on its back and is carried off; when he's hungry, he astonishes bystanders by sucking a flower's nectar. However, like a butterfly, he doesn't mind derisive laughter, and he has a special understanding of natural beauty—and also of an invading army (he imagines it to be a centipede) and its warlord, whom he sees as a beetle on its back (the insulted lord lets him go as "either madman or a prophet"). When lord and army perish, the Butterfly Boy is suddenly revered, "but praise meant no more to him than insults." In Lee's spare, carefully constructed paintings, figures are stylized and the butterfly's alternate visions appear in insets.

Not easy or entirely successful but, still, a philosophic tale with worthy and venerable roots, certainly worthy of discussion. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 1993

ISBN: 0-374-31003-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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