Although much talent is evident in this creative pairing, the result lacks overall appeal for the picture-book crowd; save...

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THE BOO! BOOK

An engaging narrator, together with magical illustrations that often conjure surreal scenes, lets readers in on all there is to know about haunted books and how to be a good owner of one.

“Everyone has heard of haunted houses,” but “not many people know that books can be haunted too.” Book ghosts are likely “to meddle with stories and turn them upside down” or occasionally scramble the words on a page. It's important not to offend book ghosts, and their book should not be read “on the anniversary of the day the ghost first took up residence” in it. Readers “who make this mistake get sucked up into the book….” Lachenmeyer’s fantastical story comes to life in the artful hands of Ceccoli. Employing a technique that utilizes Plasticine puppets, digital photography and acrylics, she will have readers feeling as though they have entered the book ghosts’ deep, watery blue world, full of bubbles and populated by bizarre creatures such as a balloon-headed doll and swimming eyeballs. Children could be either fascinated or unsettled by the story’s premise, but few will deny the captivating quality of the pictures. Characters appear to have a lifelike sparkle in their eyes, and the transparent, ice blue ghost comes across as more mischievous than scary. The book ends on an upbeat note and with an unnecessary pop-up.

Although much talent is evident in this creative pairing, the result lacks overall appeal for the picture-book crowd; save for children with patience and a taste for the surreal. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4169-3513-1

Page Count: 46

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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