THE WAITING PLACE

Outrageous adventures take place at the foot of the bed when a bout of insomnia allows a child’s imagination to take flight. Spare, imperfectly rhyming text gives readers just enough structure to enter the illustrations, which yield something new with every viewing. Reminiscent of the artwork of Chris Van Allsburg, enlivened by a touch of Monty Python, Sutherland’s black-and-white drawings delight the eye with their whimsy, complex but contained by the unchanging perspective from the child’s perch: covers and foot of bed, floor, dresser, and chair; on the one wall is a window, on another is the door. The framework doesn’t change, but the view ebbs and flows with people, creatures, and events, as a Viking longboat goes by, a hot-air balloon visits the Man in the Moon, a snowy woods appears that is worthy of Robert Frost, and Grandmother Gryphon arrives to play chess. Unseen until the very last page, the child whose imagination has called forth the riot of symbols and images gets out of bed, no longer waiting sleeplessly but ready for a snow day’school cancelled and the “hills quietly calling.” A jubilant debut, half-mad and wholly invigorating. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-8109-3994-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1998

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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THE KOREAN CINDERELLA

A retelling based on three of the ``half a dozen'' Korean Cinderella variants: ``Pear Blossom's'' stepmother calls her ``Little Pig,'' barely feeds her, and assigns her impossible tasks (filling a cracked jug), but the girl is helped by magical animals (a giant ox that weeds a rice paddy for her). A young magistrate, ``struck by her beauty,'' identifies her at a village festival by her lost sandal, and thus she makes an honorable marriage. The simple tale is retold in a vigorous, rather dramatic style. Heller, whose illustrations are based on her research in Korea, offers bold montages of figures and patterns in a striking array of intense colors. Her facial expressions are less expertly crafted than her realistic animals, sculptural draperies, and decorative traditional motifs, while the mix of styles leads to some cluttered effects; still, an attractive setting for a worthy variant. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-020432-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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