HOW MUCH LAND DOES A MAN NEED?

A man’s greed leads to his downfall in this adaptation of an 1886 short story. Pakhom is a peasant whose wife is happy with life but who himself has an insatiable desire for more and more land. He follows rumors and stories from place to place, enlarging his holdings each time, until he hears that the Bashkirs are practically giving away huge tracts of land. He investigates, to find that for 1,000 rubles, he can claim as much land as he can walk around in a day. Greed keeps him walking until sundown, when he finally reaches his starting point—and falls down dead. It is a sudden end to what has until that point been a fairly sprightly tale about greed and contentment along the lines of the many variants on “The Fisherman and His Wife.” The final illustration depicts Pakhom ascending with a host of angels, but it is doubtful that this will do much to soften the text: “Pakhom’s servant . . . dug his master a grave—just as long and as wide as Pakhom’s body where it lay upon the earth.” As an adaptation, the story cuts much from the original that lends it psychological and political depth, notably the involvement of the Devil in Pakhom’s lust for land and Pakhom’s relationships with various local Communes and landlords. Kiev-based Abesinova’s illustrations are humorous and highly detailed, cramming every possible element into richly colored, flat tableaux. Although they are entirely pleasing of themselves, they do little to extend the story of a man who is so driven to own land that he literally walks himself to death. For more psychologically satisfying treatments of the same theme, stick to the aforementioned folktales. There are no translation/abridgment/adaptation credits; however, a biographical note on Tolstoy follows the text. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56656-407-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2001

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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