It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender.

While he has no difficulty overcoming much larger and fiercer opponents in the boxing ring, the eponymous hero of this quirky collaboration may nonetheless struggle to find an appreciative audience.

Lalouche is a postman in late-19th-century Paris. Slight but strong, he enjoys his work, adores his pet finch, Geneviève, and appreciates his small apartment, even if it doesn’t have a view. Naturally, he is devastated when his superior informs him that he’s being replaced. Determined to find work, he responds to an advertisement for sparring partners, and the rest is history (though there’s a bit of mockery to endure before he triumphs). Luckily enough, the postal service’s new “fleet of electric autocars” don’t work out as expected, so by the happy ending, Lalouche is back to pounding the pavement and chatting with old friends on his regular route. Olshan’s understated text flows smoothly, with occasional French phrases that emphasize the continental charm of his offbeat narrative. Blackall’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations, meanwhile, combine exaggerated size differences and unusual angles with a collagelike style to create a gently humorous, old-fashioned, scrapbook feel. Illustrations of Lalouche’s opponents are particularly amusing, including those that decorate the endpapers. Blackall’s personal collection of pictures of old-time boxers apparently inspired Olshan’s narrative; though thoroughly accomplished, it nonetheless has a very adult feel.

It remains to be seen whether young listeners will consider Lalouche a real contender. (author’s note) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86225-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013


Sweet art, cloying storyline.

Actor Andrews and her daughter Walton Hamilton pay tribute to the power of music.

The inhabitants of a small village are happy with “simple pleasures” until they commercialize to attract tourists…whereupon a dismal purple mist creeps in and thickens to the point that people stop visiting or even going outside. Then one day little Piccolino, who is helping his father dust the deserted opera house, plinks out a tune on the piano…and notices that the palms in the lobby look fresher. The brown-skinned pair proceed to gather wilting houseplants from all over town, park them in the auditorium seats, and call the orchestra members in for a concert. The plants flourish, the fog lifts, and throngs of villagers are drawn out into the streets by the music to dance and sing. Everyone realizes that “if they remained faithful to all that matters most, nothing could darken their days again.” In a closing note the authors state that they were inspired by an actual concert played in Barcelona in 2020 to an “audience” of plants—a piece of performance art more likely to stimulate discussion than this trite, sugary mess. The illustrations are one bright spot: MacKay places her gracefully posed, diverse figures in luminously hued scenes of narrow streets and neatly kept buildings perched on a steep hill and threaded with musical staves. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Sweet art, cloying storyline. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781419763199

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


From the Adventures of Henry Whiskers series , Vol. 1

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965) upgrades to The Mice and the Rolls-Royce.

In Windsor Castle there sits a “dollhouse like no other,” replete with working plumbing, electricity, and even a full library of real, tiny books. Called Queen Mary’s Dollhouse, it also plays host to the Whiskers family, a clan of mice that has maintained the house for generations. Henry Whiskers and his cousin Jeremy get up to the usual high jinks young mice get up to, but when Henry’s little sister Isabel goes missing at the same time that the humans decide to clean the house up, the usually bookish big brother goes on the adventure of his life. Now Henry is driving cars, avoiding cats, escaping rats, and all before the upcoming mouse Masquerade. Like an extended version of Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice (1904), Priebe keeps this short chapter book constantly moving, with Duncan’s peppy art a cute capper. Oddly, the dollhouse itself plays only the smallest of roles in this story, and no factual information on the real Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House is included at the tale’s end (an opportunity lost).

Innocuous adventuring on the smallest of scales. (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6575-5

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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