Bosch, the late-medieval Dutch artist, painted extraordinary surreal scenes, their whimsical details meticulously depicted. Willard imagines that Bosch's house is crowded with his own fantastical creatures, driving his housekeeper wild with :three- legged thistles asleep in my wash" and a dragon to "wrestle...to get to my sink"; meanwhile, the insouciant Hieronymus gazes abstractedly at the mayhem, palette in hand. The housekeeper flees, only to find that she misses the excitement; fortunately, her trunk contains some of the weird creations, including a "pickle-winged fish" on which she rides home to a loving welcome and the promise of more help—''till death do us part'' (a mellower feminist message than that in Anthony Browne's Piggybook, 1986, and even more imaginative). Willard wraps this gossamer plot in enchantingly musical, comical verse ("In this vale of tears we must take what we're sent,/Feathery, leathery, lovely, or bent"). The Dillons now include son Lee, who provides an elaborate frame sculpted in silver, brass, and bronze for the paintings, to which he also contributed. His bronze figures peer in astonishment at the marvelous action within the frame, painted with a Bosch-like precision and irrepressible invention; additional drawings and a beautifully hand-lettered text also contribute to the lovely, spacious format. Like Bosch's menage, this may not suit quite everyone; but, for those with minds and hearts open to its wit, artistry, and merriment, a rare delight. (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-15-262210-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet