THE BUTTERFLY

During the Nazi occupation of France, Monique discovers that a young Jewish girl named Serine has been hidden in her cellar. It is a surprise to Monique that her mother and father have been sheltering the family, but she does not let on that she knows. The girls visit and play together in the evening when the rest of the household is asleep. “They laughed and giggled, and told each other their dreams.” Although frightened by the presence of Nazi soldiers in her village, their friendship grows, and Monique brings gifts to Serine from the outside world: rich soil, a bright flower, and finally a real wonder, a butterfly. A neighbor catches a glimpse of Serine, and the family must flee. This is another one of Polacco’s (Thank You Mr. Falker, 1998) family stories based on real events and retold in a dramatic picture book for older readers. The strikingly detailed marker and pencil illustrations bring forth the fear, deprivation, and small joys of the time. The richness of the illustrations from the blue-patterned teacups to the gallery of dog portraits that adorn a staircase evokes a strong sense of time and place. Polacco uses a palette of pinks and pastels that are quickly overshadowed by grays, black, and red to evoke Monique’s growing realizations of the oppression, danger, and darkness of the moment. A strong contrast comes at the end when hope returns in the form of dozens of bright orange-and-black butterflies. Polacco’s choice of monarchs to depict the butterflies emphasizes the miraculous nature of this occurrence because, although these butterflies are abundant in North America, they are rarely sighted in Europe. A portrait of friendship, courage, and hope.(Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-399-23170-6

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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THE STONE OF FIRE

From the Cavemice series , Vol. 1

Warp back in time for a prehistoric spinoff adventure with Geronimo Stilton’s ancestor, Geronimo Stiltonoot, in Old Mouse City.

Readers will find Geronimo Stiltonoot a familiar character, outfitted differently from descendant Stilton yet still running a newspaper and having wild adventures. In this introduction to prehistoric mouse life, someone has stolen the most powerful and important artifact housed by the Old Mouse City Mouseum: the Stone of Fire. It’s up to Stiltonoot and his fellow sleuth and friend, Hercule Poirat, to uncover not only the theft, but a dangerous plot that jeopardizes all of Old Mouse City. As stand-ins for the rest of the Stilton cast, Stiltonoot has in common with Stilton a cousin named Trap, a sister named Thea and a nephew named Benjamin. The slapstick comedy and design, busy with type changes and color, will be familiar for Stilton readers. The world is fictionalized for comedic effect, featuring funny uses for dinosaurs and cheeky references to how far back in time they are, with only the occasional sidebar that presents facts. The story takes a bit long to get started, spending a lot of time reiterating the worldbuilding information laid out before the first chapter. But once it does start, it is an adventure Stilton readers will enjoy. Geronimo Stiltonoot has the right combination of familiarity and newness to satisfy Stilton fans. (Fiction. 6-10)

 

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-44774-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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THREE YOUNG PILGRIMS

Mary, Remember, and Bartholomew Allerton were among the youngest on the Mayflower's first voyage; the words here tell how, with the other newcomers, they suffer tremendous losses but gradually come to view Plymouth as home. Meanwhile, the author's paintings expand considerably on the text with a fanciful map of the journey, a cutaway view of the ship, and crowd scenes of planting, harvest, and thanksgiving. The children, introduced in the first paragraph, don't appear in the illustrations, and are not the focus of any picture, until well into the book. The ongoing disparity between text and art is unsettling; moreover, the text is often clumsy: After the death of Mary—last of the original group—the narrative leaps back to a confusing, incomplete explanation of the Pilgrims' origins. The panoramic watercolors are attractive, with expertly composed, cinematic scenes, but the text, pursuing its separate agenda, regrettably never catches up. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1992

ISBN: 0-02-742643-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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