While it delivers a worthy moral, this supernatural tale offers some awkward rhymes and flat imagery.


A braggart gets his comeuppance in this debut picture book about otherworldly strangers and marble games.

Bluff is a white, golden-haired marble player. He keeps his prize marbles in a gold matchbox tied with a red ribbon. He defeats every player in town, making sure everyone knows that he’s the best. Finally, Bluff becomes so obnoxious that the supernatural world begins to notice: The sky becomes black; the sea turns red; and a crevasse cuts its way right through the marble circles where Bluff has played. Suddenly, a dark-skinned, yellow-suited stranger appears and challenges Bluff to a game. Predictably, Bluff is defeated and ridiculed by the marble players he has beaten and the town’s children. When he cries out to God, asking why he’s being punished, a “dirt colored angel” appears, explaining that Bluff’s own arrogance led to his downfall. In this series opener, Kind provides a valuable lesson to readers. But the author employs an off-rhythm verse, with frequently rhyming words that don’t fall nicely into any of the poetry forms children may recognize. Some of the word choices (describing the red ribbon as “locks” for his box) don’t quite work. The caricature-like images against a sepia background by debut illustrator Pollitt enhance the rich retro flavor of the story, which brings to mind folk tales from the American South. Unfortunately, the two-dimensional style gives readers little to look at beyond the first read.

While it delivers a worthy moral, this supernatural tale offers some awkward rhymes and flat imagery.

Pub Date: Dec. 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72927-446-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2019

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The greening of Dr. Seuss, in an ecology fable with an obvious message but a savingly silly style. In the desolate land of the Lifted Lorax, an aged creature called the Once-ler tells a young visitor how he arrived long ago in the then glorious country and began manufacturing anomalous objects called Thneeds from "the bright-colored tufts of the Truffula Trees." Despite protests from the Lorax, a native "who speaks for the trees," he continues to chop down Truffulas until he drives away the Brown Bar-ba-loots who had fed on the Tuffula fruit, the Swomee-Swans who can't sing a note for the smogulous smoke, and the Humming-Fish who had hummed in the pond now glumped up with Gluppity-Glupp. As for the Once-let, "1 went right on biggering, selling more Thneeds./ And I biggered my money, which everyone needs" — until the last Truffula falls. But one seed is left, and the Once-let hands it to his listener, with a message from the Lorax: "UNLESS someone like you/ cares a whole awful lot,/ nothing is going to get better./ It's not." The spontaneous madness of the old Dr. Seuss is absent here, but so is the boredom he often induced (in parents, anyway) with one ridiculous invention after another. And if the Once-let doesn't match the Grinch for sheer irresistible cussedness, he is stealing a lot more than Christmas and his story just might induce a generation of six-year-olds to care a whole lot.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 1971

ISBN: 0394823370

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1971

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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