Next book


Mama may be a "monster" who lives in a cave in back of the house and frightens neighbors with her moods, but she also paints (her true calling, it seems), gardens, bakes cookies, and has "the sweetest touch in the world" when her son is ill. Like her, Patrick Edward is fearless: When bullies taunt him ("Your mother wears army boots") and tie him up, he bursts his bonds and breaks their baseball bat. His mighty roar summons Mama, who chases the bullies home to make a new cake to replace the one they've just destroyed. The cake is shared; Mama gives Patrick Edward a hug ("I am your mother, even if I am a monster—and I love you"); and the admiring boys depart, remarking, "Your mother is something else." Sendak's Wild Things embody a child's inner life; here, parents' mysterious, often scary vagaries are personified by an extraordinary mother who is unpredictable, even fierce, but also creative, nurturing, and the source of her child's strength. Gammell's vibrant, freely rendered paintings magnify the ambivalence: clouds of dark lurk behind pervasive splashes of brilliant color; unkempt Mama, with hairy arms and pointy, multicolored fingernails, is almost terrifyingly bizarre; but the sturdy boy with his shock of tangerine hair is clearly a secure little person who can handle whatever life brings. This is not for the literal-minded: those who read the thematic title as an oxymoron may also feel challenged by the gorgeous, if unconventional, art. A splendid book that reaches deep into truth, not all of it cozy, and comes up smiling. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-21989-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

Next book


From the Otis series

Continuing to find inspiration in the work of Virginia Lee Burton, Munro Leaf and other illustrators of the past, Long (The Little Engine That Could, 2005) offers an aw-shucks friendship tale that features a small but hardworking tractor (“putt puff puttedy chuff”) with a Little Toot–style face and a big-eared young descendant of Ferdinand the bull who gets stuck in deep, gooey mud. After the big new yellow tractor, crowds of overalls-clad locals and a red fire engine all fail to pull her out, the little tractor (who had been left behind the barn to rust after the arrival of the new tractor) comes putt-puff-puttedy-chuff-ing down the hill to entice his terrified bovine buddy successfully back to dry ground. Short on internal logic but long on creamy scenes of calf and tractor either gamboling energetically with a gaggle of McCloskey-like geese through neutral-toned fields or resting peacefully in the shade of a gnarled tree (apple, not cork), the episode will certainly draw nostalgic adults. Considering the author’s track record and influences, it may find a welcome from younger audiences too. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-399-25248-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

Next book


While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of...

Rabe follows a young girl through her first 12 days of kindergarten in this book based on the familiar Christmas carol.

The typical firsts of school are here: riding the bus, making friends, sliding on the playground slide, counting, sorting shapes, laughing at lunch, painting, singing, reading, running, jumping rope, and going on a field trip. While the days are given ordinal numbers, the song skips the cardinal numbers in the verses, and the rhythm is sometimes off: “On the second day of kindergarten / I thought it was so cool / making lots of friends / and riding the bus to my school!” The narrator is a white brunette who wears either a tunic or a dress each day, making her pretty easy to differentiate from her classmates, a nice mix in terms of race; two students even sport glasses. The children in the ink, paint, and collage digital spreads show a variety of emotions, but most are happy to be at school, and the surroundings will be familiar to those who have made an orientation visit to their own schools.

While this is a fairly bland treatment compared to Deborah Lee Rose and Carey Armstrong-Ellis’ The Twelve Days of Kindergarten (2003), it basically gets the job done. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 21, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234834-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

Close Quickview