Aesop noir—gorgeous. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-10)



A melodramatic take on the Aesop fable with dark, strongly brushed artwork and equally expressive language.

“When the moon slithers into the open skies, surely some trickery is afoot.” The charged exchange between the crow with the stolen bread in his beak and the trickster fox below is entirely nonverbal: “Their eyes meet. A challenge is spoken.” Fox howls (“Oh, she’s a temptress, that one,” comments the narrative). As “[a] song is an invitation[,] Crow must sing back.” In consequence, even as “Crow’s pride sets his hunger ablaze,” Fox snatches the fallen bread with a smirk, and her “tail teases as she swishes away.” The big, spread-spanning nighttime scenes are mostly close-ups, often just headshots of the sly rivals (and an owl, looking on inscrutably) limned in thick swirls of light and shadow. Floating musical notes to symbolize the “song” add an incongruous (and superfluous) element, but they don’t detract significantly from the brief encounter’s intensity. The moral goes unstated, and in contrast to more-conventional versions, the interpretation suggests higher stakes than just a lost meal. Discuss.

Aesop noir—gorgeous. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-81-8190-303-7

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Karadi Tales

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends


From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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