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

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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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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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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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