A vividly written work of juvenile fiction that mixes fantasy and suspense with messages of empowerment, history, art, and...

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THE CRYSTAL NAVIGATOR

A PERILOUS JOURNEY BACK THROUGH TIME

In this adventure for middle-grade readers, a young girl regains her self-confidence and discovers the power of knowledge when she travels back in time to visit great artists of the past.

Sixth-grader Lucy Nightingale blanks out in class one day and finds that she’s lost the “confident part of herself, the Lucy who loved school, the Lucy who could give wonderful oral reports and got A’s.” The following morning, a strange new teacher named Arabella Lang asks Lucy to write a report on what Botticelli’s “Primavera,” Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa,” Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, Pontormo’s “Four Women,” and Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” say about the artists themselves. Lucy calls upon the Wise Ones, “magic beings who listen for children’s wishes,” for help. A response comes in the form of a bespectacled, endearing, talking corgi dog named Wilbur, who serves as her guide for a time-traveling journey involving crystals, synchronized “wavelengths,” and a gadget called the Navigator. First up is Botticelli’s studio; there, Lucy says of one work, “It’s a wonderful painting. I’m sure lots of people will want to buy it.” (In an apparent oversight, she repeats this phrase four pages later, referring to another painting.) Later, she and Wilbur view “grumpy” Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling in progress, and they visit Leonardo’s studio, which is filled with his inventions. The reclusive Pontormo’s “Four Women” makes Lucy catch her breath: “You see bigness and bright color in the world,” she tells him. She also encounters Van Gogh in his St. Remy asylum; Lodge portrays him with affecting sensitivity. Throughout this entertaining, fantastical debut, the author brings the artists and their paintings to life with resonant, informed vignettes. Each funny or soulful encounter gives Lucy opportunities to realize that she’s also an original, smart thinker. Lodge also shows Lucy taking on challenges, such as when the Navigator and Wilbur succumb to a virus; as a result, the faulty instrument lands the travelers in the path of Hannibal and his war elephants and takes them to an Egyptian pyramid and inside Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” where “Vincent’s crashing sky rose up like a sea monster.” In the end, Lucy is ready for class, thanks to all the insights she’s gained from her adventures.

A vividly written work of juvenile fiction that mixes fantasy and suspense with messages of empowerment, history, art, and science.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0996088534

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Wilwahren Press

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...

WAITING FOR THE BIBLIOBURRO

Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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CINDERELLA

This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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