MILO AND THE MAGICAL STONES

A BOOK WITH TWO ENDINGS

Pfister (Hopper's Treetop Adventure, p. 226, etc.) begins this book with his trademark fly-in-the-ointment approach: A happy bunch of cherubic cliff mice inhabit an idyllic island, where all is wonderful until winter forces the mice into dank, dark caves. One mouse, Milo, discovers a magical glowing stone (thereby allowing Pfister's other trademark—dazzling reflective elements—to take the stage) that provides heat. The other mice, understandably, would like stones for their caves. Balthazar, something of a sage, cautions that the stones belong to the island and something must be given in return for their use. The book's pages thus split in two: ``The Happy Ending'' appears on top, ``The Sad Ending'' below. The top story is predictable—each mouse fashions a decorative stone in gratitude. The bottom story takes a more compelling route, becoming a full-blown cautionary tale of the consequences of greed, envy, and environmental pillaging. In this duel of positive/negative examples, the negative clearly has more vigor and impact, and brings Pfister's message—about making wise ecological choices—home. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 1-55858-682-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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THE POUT-POUT FISH

The pout-pout fish, painted a suitable blue, is so named for his perpetual gloom: “I’m a pout-pout fish / With a pout-pout face, / So I spread the dreary-wearies / All over the place.” When a jellyfish complains about his “daily scaly scowl,” the glum fish agrees, but says his mood isn’t up to him. A squid, dubbing the fish “a kaleidoscope of mope,” receives the same defeatist answer, as do other sea creatures. Up to this point, the story is refreshing in that readers will no doubt recognize the pout-pout fish in their own lives, and in many cases, there’s just no cheering these people up. But the plot takes a rather unpalatable turn when a shimmery girl fish kisses the gloomster right on his pouty mouth. With that kiss, he transforms into the “kiss-kiss fish” and swims around “spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place,” meaning that he starts to smooch every creature in sight. (Don’t try this at school, kids, you’ll get suspended!) Still, there’s plenty of charm here, both in the playful language (“hulky-bulky sulking!”) and in the winning artwork—Hanna’s cartoonish undersea world swims with hilarious bug-eyed creatures that ooze personality. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 21, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-36096-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2008

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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