ELLA

An iconic picture book gets rebooted.

Even before the opening—“I am Ella / I am six // I am an urban child / I live at The Local Hotel”—savvy readers will recognize the cover design of a girl writing her name in red lipstick on a huge mirror. Ella has brown skin, a bubble skirt and less of a glint in her eye than Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight’s Eloise, but she takes similarly rambunctious ownership of her funky, contemporary home-hotel. Ella’s mischief and cadence (and Kasdan’s minimal punctuation) ring thrillingly familiar: “If there are a lot of wheelie suitcases trying / to get in the elevator and these people are all in a band / with a bunch of groupies and publicists / and bloggers or something I wedge myself right in / the middle of it and drop my MetroCard.” The tattooed, male nanny “might go in with some guys to buy a grilled cheese truck”; elsewhere Ella reports, “Sometimes I put edamame / in my nostrils.” Her self-descriptions are hilarious; the text winks with merry self-awareness. However, Chin’s color-focused art is flat and unfortunately earnest, lacking visual humor. This newbie mischief-maker can’t approach the original, but that’s fine—it’s not parody, correction or competition; it’s homage. Both books together make a very cool gift.

For hipsters of all ages. (Picture book. 6-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-670-01675-4

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

A wonderful retelling of the classic tale, handled with confidence and aplomb in Moses's first book. Here again is the lovelorn, greedy Ichabod; the dismissive Katrina; the loutish Brom Bones; and the headless horseman in all his pumpkin-wielding glory. Moses is true to the original while rendering the story appropriate for a younger audience: Everything from the gawky advances of Ichabod to the flirtatious Katrina, from Bones's pranksterish retaliations to the final electric encounter with the night rider is deftly, elementally, served forth. The sumptuous illustrations are perfectly wedded to the words, be they grand two-page spreads or the small painterly evocations lavishly decorating the text. Look closely: Lurking within the folksy artwork, with its overall primitive look, is an extraordinarily sophisticated technique enriched by an inspired use of color. A top-drawer adaptation, lovely and true. (Picture book/folklore. 6+)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-22687-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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