JABBERWOCKY

It would be hard not to end up with an outstanding result when starting with such brilliant material as Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” but Stewart’s mixed-media illustrations suit the wry humor of this nonsense poem so perfectly it’s hard to imagine it being interpreted as well by anyone else since Tenniel himself. The wide, thin-lipped visage of the Jabberwock is particularly reminiscent of Tenniel’s drawings and provides a tribute to the definitive illustrator of Carroll’s work. But there are many original touches, such as the clockwork inner workings of the beast and the imagining of what exactly things like “slithy toves,” “borogoves,” and “mome raths” are (here, various imaginary forest denizens, some of them birdlike, who relax in hammocks and play accordions). The dusky palette of tan, olive, dusty purple, pale blue, and brick red outlined in thin brown lends an antique feel, as does the pseudo-medieval costume worn by the boy as he hunts the “maxnome foe.” Far from being frightening, the Jabberwock is positively dapper in his top hat and high, stiff collar, and the fact that his insides are mechanical keeps his dismemberment from being gory. It’s helpful that the poem is printed in its entirety at the beginning, so readers and listeners can get their own imaginations started before digging in. This brilliantly original, yet respectful new rendering of an old favorite reminds those who’ve read it before of the infinite possibilities and pure fun in its interpretation, and will bring its delightful nonsense to a whole new audience. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-7636-2018-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared.

IMAGINE

Former Poet Laureate Herrera encourages his young readers to imagine all they might be in his new picture book.

Herrera’s free verse tells his own story, starting as a young boy who loves the plants and animals he finds outdoors in the California fields and is then thrust into the barren, concrete city. In the city he begins to learn to read and write, learning English and discovering a love for words and the way ink flows “like tiny rivers” across the page as he applies pen to paper. Words soon become sentences, poems, lyrics, and a means of escape. This love of the word ultimately leads him to make writing his vocation and to become the first Chicano Poet Laureate of the United States, an honor Herrera received in 2015. Through this story of hardship to success, expressed in a series of conditional statements that all begin “If I,” Herrera implores his readers to “imagine what you could do.” Castillo’s ink and foam monoprint illustrations are a tender accompaniment to Herrera’s verse, the black lines of her illustrations flowing across the page in rhythm with the author’s poetry. Together this makes for a charming read-aloud for groups or a child snuggled in a lap.

A lyrical coming-of-age story in picture-book form that begs to be shared. (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9052-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin.

ON THE FIRST DAY OF FIRST GRADE

The traditional song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” gets a school makeover as readers follow a cheery narrator through the first 12 days of first grade.

“On the first day of first grade / I had fun right away // laughing and learning all day!” In these first two spreads, Jennings shows the child, who has brown skin and a cloud of dark-brown hair, entering the schoolyard with a diverse array of classmates and settling in. In the backgrounds, caregivers, including a woman in hijab, stand at the fence and kids hang things on hooks in the back of the room. Each new day sees the child and their friends enjoying new things, previous days’ activities repeated in the verses each time so that those listening will soon be chiming in. The child helps in the classroom, checks out books from the library, plants seeds, practices telling time and counting money, leads the line, performs in a play, shows off a picture of their pet bunny, and does activities in gym, music, and art classes. The Photoshop-and-watercolor illustrations portray adorable and engaged kids having fun while learning with friends. But while the song and topic are the same, this doesn’t come close to touching either the hysterical visuals or great rhythm of Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003).

For places where the first-grade shelves are particularly thin. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 19, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266851-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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