BUYING MITTENS

First published in 1988 in Japan, this tale does not survive its translation. A small fox experiences winter for the first time, tumbling, scampering, and running in the snow-covered world. Soon he returns to his mother complaining that his paws hurt and tingle with cold. Mother takes one of little fox’s paws and “magically turned it into the cute hand of a human child.” She sends her child off to town to buy mittens, warning her child to show only the human hand to the storekeeper. The small fox finds the town and the storekeeper, and politely asks for mittens, sticking a paw through the open doorway. In his confusion he puts forward the wrong paw; but the storekeeper, once he is sure the fox has real money, finds a pair of mittens and puts them on the fox’s paws. The fox returns home, baffled by his mother’s fear of humans. The plot has folkloric elements, but the text is wordy, sentimental, and pedestrian. Although the art can’t compensate for the text, the jacket painting holds the promise of luminous illustrations within, with a glowing white fox against of soft pearl-gray landscape. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8248-2128-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.

WEDGIEMAN

A HERO IS BORN

From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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A serene, feel-good outing with a cozy, old-fashioned feel.

CHIRRI & CHIRRA

From the Chirri & Chirra series

In this Japanese import, the first in a long-running series to appear in English, two girls ride bikes through a forest—with stops for clover-blossom tea and jam sandwiches.

It’s such a benign wood that Chirri and Chirra—depicted as a prim pair of identical twins with straight bob cuts—think nothing of sharing both a lunch spot and a nap beneath a tree with a bear and a rabbit. Moreover, at convenient spots along the way there is a forest cafe with a fox waiter plus “tables and chairs of all different size” to accommodate the diverse forest clientele, a bakery offering “bread in all different shapes and jam in all different colors,” and, just as the sun goes down, a forest hotel with similarly diverse keys and doors. That night a forest concert draws the girls and the hotel’s animal guests to their balconies to join in: “La-la-la, La-la-la. What a wonderful night in the forest!” Despite heavy doses of cute, the episode is saved from utter sappiness by the inclusive spirit of the forest stops and the delightfully unforced way that the girls offer greetings to a pair of honeybees at a tiny adjacent table in the cafe, show no anxiety at the spider dangling above their napping place, and generally accept their harmonious sylvan world as a safe and friendly place. Doi creates her illustrations with colored pencil, pastel, and crayon, crafting them to look like mid-20th-century lithographs.

A serene, feel-good outing with a cozy, old-fashioned feel. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-59270-199-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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