Unfortunately this slim slice of Claudel’s life makes for a prim little picture book; both story and art are suffused with...

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MADELEINE'S LIGHT

A well-meaning picture-book debut features an episode from the life of a 19th-century artist.

Ziarnik’s fascination with Camille Claudel, the pioneering French academic sculptor and protégé of Rodin, led to this brief, stiffly imagined encounter between Claudel and her real-life child-muse, Madeleine Boyer, during a sojourn at Madeleine and her grandmother's country house. This little girl inspired Claudel’s iconic sculpture La Petite Châtelaine (The Little Lady). The determined and beautiful artist sculpts the child while kindly guiding the child’s creation of a little clay bird for her Grand-mère. Though backmatter refers to Claudel’s “passionate temperament,” there is precious little earthiness or intensity here. Dunn’s accompanying art is an awkwardly composed succession of domestic watercolor tableaux that owe more to Disney than Millet. Annoyingly, Dunn depicts the three female characters with coiffures featuring escaping, wispy hair tendrils—presumably a shorthand for their preoccupation with art and housewifely duty. Worse, the closing spread of Claudel’s leave-taking is almost impossible to decode visually: Claudel is actually pressing a lump of clay and sculpting tools into the child’s hands.

Unfortunately this slim slice of Claudel’s life makes for a prim little picture book; both story and art are suffused with greeting-card optimism and sentimental speculation. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-59078-855-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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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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