STORIES FOR CHILDREN

With great respect for the past, this edition succeeds in bringing the illustrations into the present.

Three of Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales for children are republished with gorgeous original art by Robinson.

It would be a loss for contemporary children not to have these stories: “The Happy Prince,” who sacrifices his entire self to save those who need saving, with the help of a little bird; “The Nightingale and the Rose,” another tale of love and sacrifice; and “The Selfish Giant,” with its beautiful images of a garden of delight and a child savior. The language is stately and the tales, moral and sentimental, but at their cores, they are about love and how love behaves. The pairings of story and art glow with the truth that love knows no boundaries. The 1888 art is beautifully reproduced in full pages, while the linear, originally black-and-white images have been washed with color. The latter is always a chancy business, as the book’s designer, Emma Byrne, acknowledges: “[T]his is a tightrope act, as it is important not to destroy the integrity of the fine linework.” It does not seem meretricious in this case; the result is lovely. This is full-blown art nouveau: The watercolors are voluptuous in their sinuous line and delicacy of hue, and even the text pages have shadow patterns beneath their lovely type. Chaste biographies of Wilde and Robinson are appended.

With great respect for the past, this edition succeeds in bringing the illustrations into the present. (Fairy tales. 6-10)

Pub Date: April 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-84717-589-2

Page Count: 76

Publisher: O'Brien Press/Dufour Editions

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

THIS IS A GOOD STORY

Best for readers who have clearly indicated they would like to take their writing efforts to the next level.

A young white girl writes and illustrates a story, which is critiqued by the narrator as it is created.

The girl begins her story by drawing a Hero. Then she thinks maybe a Heroine would be better. Then she decides both will work. She places them in “a good town, filled with good people, called our Setting.” The narrator, an unseen editor who lurks over the artist’s shoulder, tells the storyteller she needs to put in some Conflict, make the Evil Overlord scarier, and give it better action. This tongue-in-cheek way of delivering the rules of creative writing is clever, and paired with Le Huche’s earnest, childlike illustrations, it seems to be aimed at giving helpful direction to aspiring young creators (although the illustrations are not critiqued). But the question needs to be asked: do very young writers really need to know the rules of writing as determined by adults? While the story appears to be about helping young readers learn writing—there is “A Friendly List of Words Used in this Book” at the end with such words as “protagonist” and “antagonist” (glossed as “Hero and Heroine” and “Evil Overlord,” respectively)—it also has a decidedly unhelpful whiff of judgment. Rules, the text seems to say, must be followed for the story to be a Good one. Ouch.

Best for readers who have clearly indicated they would like to take their writing efforts to the next level. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-2935-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

IT'S NOT THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

From the It's Not a Fairy Tale series , Vol. 4

Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud.

It’s good to embrace change.

Although an unseen narrator attempts to tell an accustomed version of “The Three Little Pigs”—here named Alan, Alfred, and Alvin Albert—their younger sister, Alison, wants to get in on the action because she’s a natural storyteller. The narrator grudgingly allows Alison to tag along, but her added bits of flavor and the unexpected personalities of her brothers soon send the story off its traditional tracks and into hilarious hijinks. For example, Alan’s love of building allows him to design a functional house made of plastic drinking straws, Alfred’s stick house is actually constructed by Alan because Alfred’s clearly a star and not stage crew, and Alvin’s shacking up in a pumpkin behind Cinderella’s castle because he’s…not the crispiest piece of bacon on the plate. Alison’s quick thinking leads the brothers to be one step ahead of the wandering wolf. When the narrator hits their limit, a conversation with Alison proves that collaboration can lead to unexpected but wonderful results. The story flows well, accompanied by energetic cartoon art, and the choice to color-code the speech bubbles of each character (and the text of the narrator vs. Alison) ensures readers will be able to follow the snappy dialogue. Those who love to make up their own stories will be inspired, and readers who march to the beats of their own drums will be delighted. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Will leave readers as happy as a pig in mud. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-3243-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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