THE VERY LITTLE PRINCESS

Imagine you’re a four-foot-tall girl visiting a Grandmother that you never knew you had and you find a beautiful, 100-year-old doll that comes alive in your hands. Imagine you’re a three-and-a-quarter-inch ceramic doll who is a princess and whose new servant girl, Zoey, is the third generation to bring you to life with tears. Imagine a fanciful, doll-coming-to-life story that turns into a disturbing tale of abandonment. An intrusive narrator poses questions to readers and sets up the dual point of view. Zoey and her mom’s arrival at Grandma Hazel’s immediately starts with arguing and tension. Zoey avoids the spitefulness by playing with the doll. Just 22 pages from the end, Zoey, and readers, realize what’s happening, as she watches her mom get in the car and drive away without a hug or kiss, just the words, “I need to be by myself”—the only clue to this betrayal was that her mom didn’t bring a suitcase. That the story takes place in one day lends immediacy, but young girls expecting a sweet doll story are likely to be shocked by the abrupt ending, which leaves no hope or happiness. Sayles’s final art not seen. (Doll fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-375-85691-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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