ANASTASIA KRUPNIK

Disappointing after A Summer to Die (1977), this episodic story takes Anastasia, ten, from her parents' unwelcome announcement that they're expecting a second child to her acceptance of the baby brother when he's born. A changing list of "Things I Love" and "Things I Hate" helps tie together Anastasia's experiences: she writes a poem which is not appreciated by her stereotypically unenlightened teacher; she visits her professor-father's college English class where she's the only one to relate to the Wordsworth poem under discussion (his students are stereotypically spacey); she decides to turn Catholic so she can choose a new name but backs out when she learns about confession; she falls in and out of love with a cool sixth-grade boy with an Afro; and she becomes attached to her senile grandmother. As in other kids' stories with sympathetic college-teacher fathers, this dad seems stuffier and less bright than he's meant to be—and Anastasia's poem seems less genuine than intended. And with Anastasia's vindictive secret choice for the baby's name, Lowry seems to be playing to an adult audience: Anastasia's father has put the choice of a name in her hands, and she plans to spring "One-Ball Reilly" on him when the time comes. Of course, she backs out and chooses her grandfather's name—more in memory of her grandmother, who dies just before the baby's birth. This way of remembering Grandmother is just one example of Lowry's linking of different threads and episodes, which she does well throughout the book. It is neatly crafted and stout for its genre, but entirely without the emotional conviction of A Summer to Die.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1979

ISBN: 0395286298

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1979

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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