PICTURES FROM OUR VACATION

Newbery-winner Perkins again displays her talent for picking out the telling details in ordinary activities—taking a young narrator and her family on a two-day drive to a now-unused farm for a rain-swept vacation capped by a general gathering of uncles, aunts and cousins. Though the child and her brother both try to record their experiences with disposable cameras, their snapshots capture far less than the thought balloons in which many of the low-key painted illustrations are framed. Perkins evokes both past and present by placing ghostly or fanciful memory images into placid scenes of passing roadside sights, local outings, rainy day living-room activities and views of people alone or chatting amiably in groups. “It’s hard to take a picture of a story someone tells, or what it feels like when you’re rolling down a hill,” the young narrator concludes. “But those kinds of pictures I can keep in my mind.” An outstanding choice for pre-vacation reading or for ruminative children at any time. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-085097-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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Patchy work, both visually and teleologically.

YOU'RE HERE FOR A REASON

The sultana of high-fructose sentimentality reminds readers that they really are all that.

Despite the title, we’re actually here for a couple of reasons. In fulsome if vague language Tillman embeds one message, that acts of kindness “may triple for days… / or set things in motion in different ways,” in a conceptually separate proposition that she summarizes thus: “perhaps you forgot— / a piece of the world that is precious and dear / would surely be missing if you weren’t here.” Her illustrations elaborate on both themes in equally abstract terms: a lad releases a red kite that ends up a sled for fox kits, while its ribbons add decorative touches to bird nests and a moose before finally being vigorously twirled by a girl and (startlingly) a pair of rearing tigers. Without transition the focus then shifts as the kite is abruptly replaced by a red ball. Both embodied metaphors, plus children and animals, gather at the end for a closing circle dance. The illustrator lavishes attention throughout on figures of children and wild animals, which are depicted with such microscopically precise realism that every fine hair and feather is visible, but she then floats them slightly above hazy, generic backdrops. The overall design likewise has a slapdash feel, as some spreads look relatively crowded with verses while others bear only a single line or phrase.

Patchy work, both visually and teleologically. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05626-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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NIGHT OF THE VEGGIE MONSTER

McClements takes a distinctly parental point of view in portraying a young veggie-hater’s nightly dinner-table performance. “Time for another fun-filled hour,” observes Dad grimly, setting down a plate holding three seemingly boulder-sized peas in front of the hyper-dramatic lad who narrates. One touch of pea to tongue is all it takes to elicit writhing fingers (“Ahh . . . I knew it would start with the fingers”), curling toes (“That’s a new one!”) and twitches that are violent enough to knock over the chair as the child is transformed into . . . “a veggie monster!” Peas choked down at last, the crisis ends—but, of course, there’s always tomorrow’s broccoli. Created with a mix of clipped photo-bits of food and utensils and figures cut from brown paper, the illustrations have a simple look that goes with the pared-down text, the perspectives and dramatic effect reminiscent of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books, but it doesn’t really capture the drama like Lauren Child’s I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (2000). Still, it may help similarly picky children, and their caregivers, get over taking themselves too seriously. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59990-061-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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