I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS

In a fictional episode inspired by several true ones, people band together to save their library after a sudden attack leaves their small town in flames. At first, young Tomas, who narrates, has no interest in going to the village library, but that attitude changes completely after he hears the new librarian tell stories from a wooden seat shaped like a unicorn. Eventually, she invites Tomas himself to read from a battered copy of “The Little Match Girl” that, she explains, had been rescued from a book-burning in her youth. Then an attack by air and land shatters the mountain valley’s peace, and when Tomas hurries into town afterwards, he joins his father and other survivors in braving the fire to carry the library’s books—and, finally, its unicorn—to safety. “Buildings they can destroy. Dreams they cannot,” the librarian proclaims. Modeling forms with scribbly lines, Blythe alternates black-and-white vignettes with wordless full-spread scenes in color; like Morpurgo, he suggests a European setting but no specific locale for the story. And like Jeanette Winter’s The Librarian of Basra (2005), the idea that saving literature is as heroic as saving lives comes through loud and clear. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-3050-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

KENNY & THE DRAGON

Reports of children requesting rewrites of The Reluctant Dragon are rare at best, but this new version may be pleasing to young or adult readers less attuned to the pleasures of literary period pieces. Along with modernizing the language—“Hmf! This Beowulf fellow had a severe anger management problem”—DiTerlizzi dials down the original’s violence. The red-blooded Boy is transformed into a pacifistic bunny named Kenny, St. George is just George the badger, a retired knight who owns a bookstore, and there is no actual spearing (or, for that matter, references to the annoyed knight’s “Oriental language”) in the climactic show-fight with the friendly, crème-brulée-loving dragon Grahame. In look and spirit, the author’s finely detailed drawings of animals in human dress are more in the style of Lynn Munsinger than, for instance, Ernest Shepard or Michael Hague. They do, however, nicely reflect the bright, informal tone of the text. A readable, if denatured, rendition of a faded classic. (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3977-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2008

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