WISH RIDERS

Once again, Jennings offers an odd amalgam of historical fiction (set in Depression times) and fantasy. Unfortunately, the fantastic elements are not well integrated, while realistic ones threaten to overwhelm the flow of the story. Edith, 15, known as Dusty, has been abandoned and now lives and works in an isolated logging camp. Desperate to escape, she finds a most unusual method when she discovers a horse made of moss and plants. When more such horses appear, she takes it as a sign that some of the other children there are also meant to leave. Five of them take off on a harrowing journey through mostly uninhabited woods. A brief sojourn with a wild woods-woman teaches them survival skills, but also seems to threaten their emotional survival. Additional details include a mild romance that turns sour, the impregnation of two characters by Dusty’s adoptive father, the discovery of the suicide of the mother of one of Dusty’s companions and the revelation that Dusty’s father made sexual advances to her before abandoning her. Well-written but overwrought. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-4231-0010-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

Swift's account of Gulliver's captivity in Lilliput and Brobdingnag is considerably shortened and rephrased here, but Riordan expertly preserves the flavor of the original: upon reaching the temple where he is to stay, the intrepid traveler shamefacedly relieves himself before the tiny multitudes (though the more famous scene where he similarly puts out a palace fire is absent); later, he survives plenty of harrowing adventures, admiringly describing the societies in which he's stranded while taking subtle pokes (and not-so-subtle—``Englishmen are the nastiest race of odious little vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth,'' says the king of Brobdingnag) at his own, and at fashion and politics in general. Large or small, Gulliver cuts a heroic figure in Ambrus's pervasive, free-wheeling illustrations; other characters have exaggerated features and a comic air that lighten the satire and serves the narrative well. Swift's ax-grinding can be indigestible in large doses; like other abridged classics from this publisher and illustrator, a palatable, well-blended appetizer. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 1992

ISBN: 0-19-279897-9

Page Count: 94

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1992

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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