THE BIRD SHADOW

Ike and Mem are pressured into visiting the Hawkins place, an abandoned and haunted house on the outskirts of town, but find that they are in for more than just an adventure. As Ike and Mem and their friends step on to the property, they notice a shed in back full of pigeons. Dave breaks a window to try to free them, but the loud crash frightens all the children into running away. Mem tells Ike that she saw someone watching from the window and they return to investigate—only to find themselves face to face with Mr. Hawkins. He is unhappy with the broken window and asks Ike and Mem for their phone number, but neither can remember it. He ominously tells them that he will be in touch. Ike’s conscience will not let him rest once he returns home, but instead of a beating heart, he hears the steady “Coo, coo, coo” of a pigeon. Ike and Mem find that Mr. Hawkins has sent a pigeon as a reminder and they eventually tell their parents the whole story, prompting a second and friendlier visit to the Hawkins place. Periodic pencil drawings accompany this very quiet, somewhat thoughtful tale. Young readers will want to stay tuned for other volumes of the adventures of Ike and Mem that are sure to follow. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1670-4

Page Count: 55

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

KONDO & KEZUMI VISIT GIANT ISLAND

From the Kondo & Kezumi series , Vol. 1

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely

Two friends embark upon a high-seas adventure.

Kondo, a large lemon-colored creature with wide round eyes, spends his day on his island home with his best friend, tangerine-hued Kezumi. Together, they frolic on their idyllic isle picking berries (tall Kondo nabs the higher fruit while Kezumi helps to retrieve the lower) while surrounded by tiny “flitter-birds” and round “fluffle-bunnies.” One day, Kezumi finds a map in a bottle that declares “WE ARE NOT ALONE.” Inspired by visions of a larger world, Kondo and Kezumi fashion a boat from a bathtub and set sail. The pair visits fantastical islands—deliciously cheese-laden Dairy Isle, the fiery and fearsome Fireskull Island—until they eventually settle upon the titular Giant Island, where they meet Albert, a gigantic gray talking mountain who is—obviously—unable to leave. Enthralled by his new friends, Albert wants them to stay forever. After Albert makes a fraught decision, Kondo and Kezumi find themselves at a crossroads and must confront their new friend. Goodner and Tsurumi’s brightly illustrated chapter book should find favor with fans of Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen’s similarly designed Mercy Watson series. Short, wry, descriptive sentences make for an equally enjoyable experience whether read aloud or independently. Episodic chapters move the action along jauntily; the conclusion is somewhat abrupt, but it promises more exploration and adventures for the best friends. (This review was originally published in the June 1, 2019, issue. The book data has been updated to reflect changes in publisher and date of publication.)

A story of friendship that is both lively and lovely (Fantasy. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-02577-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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