An artist is born in Hodges’s shortened retelling of a classic tale from Japan. Unable to stop drawing cats on every available surface, young acolyte Sesshu Toyo is expelled from one temple. He takes shelter for the night in another that is, unknown to him, haunted by a goblin. After sweeping away the dust and, of course, drawing cats on the walls, he retires to a small cabinet—to be awakened by sounds of a ferocious battle, and greeted the following morning by the sight of a huge dead rat goblin surrounded by drawings of bloody-mouthed cats. Sogabe (Hungriest Boy in the World, 2001, etc.) uses cut paper over painted backgrounds to create strongly defined forms with subtly airbrushed shadows, and puts plump, deceptively peaceful-looking felines into nearly every scene. Hodges concludes by noting that Sesshu Toyo went on to become a famous artist—“ ‘ . . . but once he was just a boy who drew cats, just a child like you.’ ” Sogabe shows only the goblin’s tail, and does not depict the battle at all; readers more inured to terror may prefer Arthur Levine’s eerie, atmospheric version of the story (1994), illustrated by Frederic Clement. (source note) (Picture book/folktale. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-8234-1594-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2002



Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999



Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look...

Winning actually isn’t everything, as jazz-happy Rooster learns when he goes up against the legendary likes of Mules Davis and Ella Finchgerald at the barnyard talent show.

Having put together a band with renowned cousin Duck Ellington and singer “Bee” Holiday, Rooster’s chances sure look good—particularly after his “ ‘Hen from Ipanema’ [makes] / the barnyard chickies swoon.”—but in the end the competition is just too stiff. No matter: A compliment from cool Mules and the conviction that he still has the world’s best band soon puts the strut back in his stride. Alexander’s versifying isn’t always in tune (“So, he went to see his cousin, / a pianist of great fame…”), and despite his moniker Rooster plays an electric bass in Bower’s canted country scenes. Children are unlikely to get most of the jokes liberally sprinkled through the text, of course, so the adults sharing it with them should be ready to consult the backmatter, which consists of closing notes on jazz’s instruments, history and best-known musicians.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58536-688-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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