BEETLE BOY

When young Gregory Samson changes overnight into a giant beetle, it leaves him feeling anything but “snug as a bug in a rug.” Despite Gregory’s insistence regarding the changes that have overcome him, his parents, sister, teacher, and classmates notice no difference. Only his best friend, Michael, actually sees Gregory’s six legs, and helps him to identify himself in a library book as a carabus problematicus, or a ground beetle. Gregory’s family is forced to recognize his insect attributes when, in desperation, he crawls into the corner of the ceiling to cry. They love him anyway, and such affirmations help restore him to human form. Not surprisingly, David (The Good Little Girl, 1998, etc.) lists “Metamorphosis” as his inspiration; Kafka’s tale of insect angst translates splendidly to a story for younger audience. Durand’s illustrations express equally silliness and pathos, making Gregory as endearing as a beetle as he is as a boy. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32549-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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GORILLA WALK

PLB 0-688-16510-9 This true adventure in the jungles of Uganda on the trail of the mountain gorilla will make armchair travelers shiver, and leave the squeamish grateful not to be trudging through mucky ankle-deep swamps, traversing giant fallen fig tree bridges over ravines that drop hundreds of feet into rocks and thorns, and coping with dreaded stinging safari ants. The Lewins traveled to Uganda in 1997, to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for an opportunity to view the mountain gorillas that have been habituated. Every step of the way the authors provide thumbnail sketches of plants and animals, and a detailed description of the journey. The gorillas appear in watercolor paintings that are dramatic and realistic, for a picture- book adventure not to be missed, and, with the continuing unrest in the area, perhaps not to be replicated any time soon. (map, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16509-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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