The startling and violent ending may make it difficult to find an audience, but it is a valuable introduction to a...

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GON, THE LITTLE FOX

An animal tale from the “Hans Christian Andersen of Japan” is now published in an English edition.

A lot of information about Japanese culture and custom is imparted in the course of this telling, which may appear rather strange to American eyes and ears. Gon is a fox who makes mischief. He empties the fishing basket of Hyoju and bites the head off the eel Hyoju had caught. Later, he finds the villagers making preparations for an event and discovers it is a funeral for Hyoju’s mother. Gon the fox thinks she must have desired the eel on her deathbed, so he resolves to make it up to Hyoju. Unfortunately, he does so by stealing sardines and gathering chestnuts and mushrooms and leaving them for Hyoju. The sardine seller gets angry with Hyoju, thinking he stole the fish, and a friend tells him the chestnuts and mushrooms must have come from God. Angered that Hyoju thanks God instead of him, Gon sneaks back to Hyoju’s house, where Hyoju recognizes him as the eel thief and shoots him. The story ends there. The sounds and sights of the natural world—bird song, water glistening on grass, the temple gong, a clover stuck to Hyoju’s cheek “as if it were a large mole”—form the texture of the tale. Mita’s beautiful and delicate original watercolors offer readers’ eyes large and lovely resting places as they make their ways through this long tale.

The startling and violent ending may make it difficult to find an audience, but it is a valuable introduction to a non-Western storytelling aesthetic. (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-940842-03-5

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Museyon

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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MR. POPPER'S PENGUINS

This is rather a silly story, and I don't believe children will think it particularly funny. A paper hanger and painter finds time on his hands in winter, and spends it in reading of arctic exploration. It is all given reality when he receives a present of a penguin, which makes its nest in the refrigerator on cubes of ice, mates with a lonely penguin from the zoo, and produces a family of penguins which help set the Poppers on their feet.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1938

ISBN: 978-0-316-05843-8

Page Count: 139

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1938

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A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale.

A TRUE HOME

From the Heartwood Hotel series , Vol. 1

An orphan mouse unexpectedly arrives at Heartwood Hotel, which she hopes will become the home she’s seeking.

Mona’s never had a home for long. After a storm forces her to flee her latest forest shelter, she discovers an enormous tree with a heart carved into its trunk. When Mona presses the heart, a door opens, and she enters the lobby of Heartwood Hotel, where small forest critters hibernate, eat, and celebrate in safety. The kindhearted badger proprietor, Mr. Heartwood, takes pity on homeless Mona, allowing her to stay for the fall to assist the maid, Tilly, a red squirrel. Grateful to be at Heartwood, Mona strives to prove herself despite Tilly’s unfriendly attitude. Mona’s clever approaches with a wounded songbird, an anxious skunk, and a wayward bear win Mr. Heartwood’s approval. But when Mona accidentally breaks a rule, Tilly convinces her she will be fired. As Mona secretly leaves Heartwood, she discovers marauding wolves planning to crash Heartwood’s Snow Festival and devises a daring plan to save the place she regards as home. Charming anthropomorphic characters, humorous mishaps, and outside threats add to the drama. Delicate pencil illustrations reinforce Heartwood’s cozy home theme. A sequel, The Greatest Gift, publishes simultaneously.

A plucky mouse finds her true home in this warm, winning tale. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: July 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-3161-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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