ECHO ECHO

REVERSO POEMS ABOUT THE GREEK MYTHS

In all, though, a visual and interpretive feast bringing timeless tales to a young audience.

Poetic portraits of well-known figures from Greek mythology.

Picking up where they left off with their “reverso” renderings of classic fairy tales (Follow Follow: A Book of Reversos, 2013, etc.), poet Singer and illustrator Masse take on Greek myth, choosing some of the most famous legends to explore from multiple perspectives. In 2010, Singer created the provocative reverso form, in which—not unlike an extended palindrome—a lyric poem presents a portrait and then recasts it backward, line by line, in a companion poem. The complicated fates of the dozen mythic figures portrayed here, among them Arachne, Midas, Demeter, and Persephone, lend themselves particularly well to this reflective form, and Masse’s gorgeous acrylics, richly stylized in blues and gold, effectively capture the dualistic nature of the reverso form. Here, curious Pandora, forever blamed for unleashing untold evils into the world when she “opened that darn box,” gets a sympathetic reprieve when the story flips: “She let loose those evils, / but / she didn’t collect them. / She gets the blame. / No matter that / it might have been great Zeus’s game.” The myth of “Eurydice and Orpheus,” though, again hinging on succumbing to desire, here relies rather too heavily on the narrative note at the bottom of the page to convey the tragic plot to young readers.

In all, though, a visual and interpretive feast bringing timeless tales to a young audience. (Picture book/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-3992-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

JAKE THE FAKE KEEPS IT REAL

From the Jake the Fake series , Vol. 1

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid.

Black sixth-grader Jake Liston can only play one song on the piano. He can’t read music very well, and he can’t improvise. So how did Jake get accepted to the Music and Art Academy? He faked it.

Alongside an eclectic group of academy classmates, and with advice from his best friend, Jake tries to fit in at a school where things like garbage sculpting and writing art reviews of bird poop splatter are the norm. All is well until Jake discovers that the end-of-the-semester talent show is only two weeks away, and Jake is short one very important thing…talent. Or is he? It’s up to Jake to either find the talent that lies within or embarrass himself in front of the entire school. Light and humorous, with Knight’s illustrations adding to the fun, Jake’s story will likely appeal to many middle-grade readers, especially those who might otherwise be reluctant to pick up a book. While the artsy antics may be over-the-top at times, this is a story about something that most preteens can relate to: the struggle to find your authentic self. And in a world filled with books about wanting to fit in with the athletically gifted supercliques, this novel unabashedly celebrates the artsy crowd in all of its quirky, creative glory.

A fast and funny alternative to the Wimpy Kid. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-52351-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

THE SINGING ROCK & OTHER BRAND-NEW FAIRY TALES

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock”...

The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.

Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless “Hip Hop Wish,” a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter’s repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre’s idea of “flattering” might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker’s big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the “Sorcerer’s New Pet.”

Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of “rock” music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59643-750-0

Page Count: 112

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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