The story is long for the picture-book format, but children who enjoy fairy and folk tales will find the story of Ava an...

AVA AND THE LITTLE FOLK

An unhappy, orphaned boy in Canada’s far north finds a new way of life with the help of a group of tiny, magical dwarves who adopt him.

Christopher, a researcher and publisher of Inuit legends and history, and Neal, a Canadian journalist, team up for a relatively lengthy, original story incorporating traditional Inuit characters and setting. Little Ava is alone and unwanted, an outcast orphan in his Arctic village. One day, he stumbles on a tiny, dwarflike man who takes Ava home to his group of family and friends (including sled dogs the size of squirrels). Ava learns that in this new world, time, size and shape can shift, according to one’s own perceptions and inner strength. He proves himself a worthy hunter, accepts the love and respect of his new family, and finds that he is now the same size as the tiny people, the Inugarulligaarjuit. Dreamy watercolor illustrations in muted tones show Ava’s growth from a cowering child to a brave and strong boy who can fight a lemming or a bear.

The story is long for the picture-book format, but children who enjoy fairy and folk tales will find the story of Ava an unusual and compelling one. (author’s note, glossary, pronunciation guide) (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-92709-502-7

Page Count: 41

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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A close encounter of the best kind.

FIELD TRIP TO THE MOON

Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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