MYSTIC HORSE

Goble (Storm Maker’s Tipi, 2001, etc.) returns with another engaging Native American legend complemented by his glorious illustrations—a mix of authentic and contemporary design. An old Pawnee woman and her grandson are very poor and walk behind the tribe, as they have no horse. One day they come across a seemingly worn-out horse. The boy cares for it as if it’s the most precious one in the tribe. In return for his kindness, the horse gives the boy advice that enables him to achieve status as a brave warrior. He goes beyond where the animal has directed him, however, and the horse is killed in battle. Realizing his foolishness, the boy retreats to sit in sorrow and remorse; the Father above allows the horse to come back to life. A series of events brings an entire herd of horses to the boy, who asks his grandmother to take one and give the rest to those in need. Never again are they viewed as poor. In fact, the boy is revered as “Piraski Resaru, Boy Chief” and the horse is known as the mystic horse. Goble’s storytelling is superb; his illustrations extraordinary and filled with fascinating detail. His characteristic, stylistically flat paintings accurately portray the Native American tribe he depicts and call to mind early Native American paintings. Using a palette of browns and golds, blues and greens, he creates a magnificent world of days long ago when the Pawnees valued their horses above all else. Author’s notes citing resources used as background verify the authenticity for both the words and the illustrations and provide insights into the history of the Pawnee nation. Goble’s fans will be delighted and new readers will be inspired to read more of his work. From an exceptional talent: a sure classic. (Picture book/folktale. 6-11)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-029813-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one.

THE WILD ROBOT ESCAPES

Roz, a robot who learned to adapt to life among wild creatures in her first outing, seeks to return to the island she calls home.

Brown’s sequel to The Wild Robot (2016) continues an intriguing premise: What would happen to a robot after challenges in an unexpected environment cause it to evolve in unusual ways? As this book opens, Roz is delivered to a farm where she helps a widower with two young children run a dairy operation that has been in his family for generations. Roz reveals her backstory to the cows, who are supportive of the robot’s determination to return to the island and to her adopted son, the goose Brightbill. The cows, the children, and finally Brightbill himself come to Roz’s aid. The focus on Roz’s escape from human control results in a somewhat solemn and episodic narrative, with an extended journey and chase after Roz leaves the farm. Dr. Molovo, a literal deus ex machina, appears near the end of the story to provide a means of rescue. She is Roz’s designer/creator, and, intrigued by the robot’s adaptation and evolution but cognizant of the threat that those achievements might represent to humans, she assists Roz and Brightbill in their quest. The satisfactory (if inevitable-feeling) conclusion may prompt discussion about individual agency and determination, whether for robots or people.

If not as effervescent as Roz’s first outing, it is still a provocatively contemplative one. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-38204-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face.

THE BAD GUYS

From the Bad Guys series , Vol. 1

Four misunderstood villains endeavor to turn over a new leaf…or a new rap sheet in Blabey's frenzied romp.

As readers open the first page of this early chapter book, Mr. Wolf is right there to greet them, bemoaning his reputation. "Just because I've got BIG POINTY TEETH and RAZOR-SHARP CLAWS and I occasionally like to dress up like an OLD LADY, that doesn't mean… / … I'm a BAD GUY." To prove this very fact, Mr. Wolf enlists three equally slandered friends into the Good Guys Club: Mr. Snake (aka the Chicken Swallower), Mr. Piranha (aka the Butt Biter), and Mr. Shark (aka Jaws). After some convincing from Mr. Wolf, the foursome sets off determined to un-smirch their names (and reluctantly curbing their appetites). Although these predators find that not everyone is ready to be at the receiving end of their helpful efforts, they use all their Bad Guy know-how to manage a few hilarious good deeds. Blabey has hit the proverbial nail on the head, kissed it full on the mouth, and handed it a stick of Acme dynamite. With illustrations that startle in their manic comedy and deadpan direct address and with a narrative that follows four endearingly sardonic characters trying to push past (sometimes successfully) their fear-causing natures, this book instantly joins the classic ranks of Captain Underpants and The Stinky Cheese Man.

We challenge anyone to read this and keep a straight face. (Fiction. 7-11)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-545-91240-2

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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