Taxi-loving readers will be happy since the tiny, yellow car is the hero, but it is a title a little too easily won.

YELLOW CAB

A taxicab on an everyday run suddenly finds himself in the middle of the rain forest, where it is up to him to save the ecosystem from destruction.

Jack used to be the fastest, most admired taxi in the city. But his wheels are turning a bit slower these days. Mesmerized by an advertisement for Brazil, Jack suddenly drops off the edge of a bridge and lands smack-dab in the rain forest. A host of critters come out to greet him: monkeys, parrots, even a chameleon—which, of course, immediately turns checkered and yellow. Jack’s fun with the animals is cut short by three large excavators tearing a path through the forest. Jack commands them to stop and suggests that they follow him back to the city, where there are lots of construction sites. Magically, they are all transported back, where Jack believes it was all a dream. Or was it? Possibly due to a stilted translation, there is not much tension in the text. The environmental message falls flat due to the story’s arbitrary nature and bizarre ease with which Jack diverts the excavators. Luckily, the illustrations give added warmth. Pfister’s stamping technique (debuted in Questions, Questions, 2011) fills the fronds with texture and gives the monkeys an irrepressible fuzziness.

Taxi-loving readers will be happy since the tiny, yellow car is the hero, but it is a title a little too easily won. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7358-4111-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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