NOTHING

In this delightful tale from Inkpen (Wibbly Pig Makes Pictures, 1995, etc.), the circle goes unbroken when a ratty and abandoned stuffed toy recalls its own true self. It is moving day. Up in the attic, a toy that had been lost is found and lost again: ``What have we got here?'' asks one of the movers. ``Oh, it's nothing,'' replies the other. ``So that's my name,'' thinks the faded and tattered little thing. ``Nothing.'' Cautioned by a mouse that the ``New People'' will probably throw him away, Nothing embarks on a reluctant journey of self-discovery. Seeing the tail on the mouse reminds him that he may have had one. The whiskers on a fox are familiar, as are the stripes on a frog in the garden lily pond. A cat takes Nothing home, where he encounters Grandpa, who holds the key to the mystery. The handsome illustrations, composed for maximum emotional impact, combine with a clever book design—the first page of the story appears before the title page, and Nothing's transformation back to a feline state takes place in a gatefold. Readers searching for deep meanings will find plenty to ponder, especially in the perfect balance between the profoundness of Nothing's mission and the humor of the text. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-531-30076-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

CINDERELLA

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

I CAN BE ANYTHING!

A young boy wonders aloud to a rabbit friend what he will be when he grows up and imagines some outrageous choices. “Puddle stomper,” “bubble gum popper,” “mixing-bowl licker,” “baby-sis soother” are just some of the 24 inspiringly creative vocations Spinelli’s young dreamer envisions in this pithy rhymed account. Aided by Liao’s cleverly integrated full-bleed mixed-media illustrations, which radiate every hue of the rainbow, and dynamic typesetting with words that swoop and dive, the author’s perspective on this adult-inspired question yields some refreshingly child-oriented answers. Given such an irresistible array of options—“So many jobs! / They’re all such fun”—the boy in the end decides, in an exuberant double gatefold, “I’m going to choose… / EVERY ONE!”—a conclusion befitting a generation expected to have more than six careers each. Without parents or peers around to corral this carefree child’s dreams, the possibilities of being whatever one wants appear both limitless and attainable. An inspired take on a timeless question. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-316-16226-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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