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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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS

Fact and fiction dovetail neatly in this tale of a wonderfully resolute child who finds a memorable way to convince her father that the newly-finished Brooklyn Bridge is safe to cross. Having watched the great bridge going up for most of her young life, Hannah is eager to walk it, but despite repeated, fact-laced appeals to reason (and Hannah is a positive fount of information about its materials and design), her father won’t be moved: “No little girl of mine will cross that metal monster!” Hannah finally hatches a far-fetched plan to convince him once and for all; can she persuade the renowned P.T. Barnum to march his corps of elephants across? She can, and does (actually, he was already planning to do it). Pham places Hannah, radiating sturdy confidence, within sepia-toned, exactly rendered period scenes that capture both the grandeur of the bridge in its various stages of construction, and the range of expressions on the faces of onlookers during its opening ceremonies and after. Readers will applaud Hannah’s polite persistence. (afterword, resources) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-87011-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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