Polacco (Babushka's Mother Goose, 1995, etc.) adds to her list of memorable characters in this somewhat mawkish tale of throwaway (homeless) people, a blind goose, and a park keeper named Stephanie Michele. The orphan Fondo spends his summer days sitting on a park bench in a nature preserve on Merritt Lake, watching the homeless people and the geese. Stephanie Michele, a big-hearted, middle-aged African-American woman, welcomes and befriends Fondo. She teaches him to help her care for the geese, shows him a blind goose who needs a little special help, and gives him an official park shirt. The goose becomes Fondo's special charge; in fact, he spends so much time caring for the geese that the throwaway people tease, "Pretty soon, you're gonna turn into a goose!" When Fondo learns he will be sent away as a "special needs" child, he wishes he could fly away with the geese—and does. The title page calls this story "A Modern Myth," but most of its elements are too grounded in reality to achieve mythic status. The most fanciful aspects may be the cute bag lady and jolly Vietnam vet. Polacco's characteristic illustrations in warm brown, peach, and green, capture the vulnerability of the unwanted boy, the beauty of the wild geese, and the solid strength and loving warmth of Stephanie Michele. If only the rest of the book were as real as she is. (Picture book. 4-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-22520-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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