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Just before dark, a nesting barn owl hears a faint sound, familiar yet mysterious. As night closes in, sources are suggested in a series of questions: Was it ``a mouse, scurrying...? Tch, tch, tch, tch...'' or, as the owl goes out to explore beneath a full moon, ``the whhoosh of a dragonfly's wings...?'' At daybreak, she discovers the true cause—her owlets are hatching. The mystery may be a contrivance, but it works well as a narrative device to link nighttime experiences. McDonald's poetic text is wonderfully full of words that evoke the senses- -especially sounds: deftly mimicked voices (``Churrr, churrr,'' says the raccoon, while Father Owl cries, ``Kwa-kwa-hoooo. Hu, Hu, Hu'') and a wealth of other onomatopoeic words. Children will delight in chiming in, especially at the end when the sounds are reiterated, summarizing the owl's search but now understood as noises made by the hatching babies. Schindler's dark illustrations are outstanding. Almost drained of color, many of the double spreads are almost entirely black, with shapes barely suggested by delicate highlights, a starry purple sky showing through a crack in the barn roof, or the outline of a raccoon's mask. The effect is daringly dramatic and surprisingly legible from at least a short distance—which is fortunate, since the text lends itself so well to group interaction. An unusual, splendidly handsome book. For primary grades, try pairing it with Walter de la Mare's haunting poem, ``Some One.'' (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-531-05974-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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From the Once Upon a World series

A nice but not requisite purchase.

A retelling of the classic fairy tale in board-book format and with a Mexican setting.

Though simplified for a younger audience, the text still relates the well-known tale: mean-spirited stepmother, spoiled stepsisters, overworked Cinderella, fairy godmother, glass slipper, charming prince, and, of course, happily-ever-after. What gives this book its flavor is the artwork. Within its Mexican setting, the characters are olive-skinned and dark-haired. Cultural references abound, as when a messenger comes carrying a banner announcing a “FIESTA” in beautiful papel picado. Cinderella is the picture of beauty, with her hair up in ribbons and flowers and her typically Mexican many-layered white dress. The companion volume, Snow White, set in Japan and illustrated by Misa Saburi, follows the same format. The simplified text tells the story of the beautiful princess sent to the forest by her wicked stepmother to be “done away with,” the dwarves that take her in, and, eventually, the happily-ever-after ending. Here too, what gives the book its flavor is the artwork. The characters wear traditional clothing, and the dwarves’ house has the requisite shoji screens, tatami mats and cherry blossoms in the garden. The puzzling question is, why the board-book presentation? Though the text is simplified, it’s still beyond the board-book audience, and the illustrations deserve full-size books.

A nice but not requisite purchase. (Board book/fairy tale. 3-5)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-7915-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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