THE SECRET LIFE OF FAIRIES

This undistinguished debut contains a jumbled assortment of general information about the wee folk (all of whom are evidently European), a bland original fairy tale, and an incomplete recipe for fairy cakes with cream icing (i.e., no instructions for the icing), all matched to competently drawn but conventional views of green-clad beings with pointy ears and dragonfly wings. Although browsers may be momentarily captured by the visit to a fairy mound, or by the spread on “Fairy Fashions,” the author’s refusal to follow up on provocative statements, e.g., “Fairies do not have belly buttons,” or to provide sources will stifle inquiry rather than spark it. Stick with more systematic field guides, such as Carol Rose’s Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns and Goblins (1998, not reviewed); collections of lore, such as Rose Williams’s The Book of Fairies (1997); or, for an atmospheric visit to fairy realms, try Suza Scalora’s The Fairies (see review, below). (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-55074-547-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Kids Can

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1999

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THE COLORS OF US

This vibrant, thoughtful book from Katz (Over the Moon, 1997) continues her tribute to her adopted daughter, Lena, born in Guatemala. Lena is “seven. I am the color of cinnamon. Mom says she could eat me up”; she learns during a painting lesson that to get the color brown, she will have to “mix red, yellow, black, and white paints.” They go for a walk to observe the many shades of brown: they see Sonia, who is the color of creamy peanut butter; Isabella, who is chocolate brown; Lucy, both peachy and tan; Jo-Jin, the color of honey; Kyle, “like leaves in fall”; Mr. Pellegrino, the color of pizza crust, golden brown. Lena realizes that every shade is beautiful, then mixes her paints accordingly for portraits of her friends—“The colors of us!” Bold illustrations celebrate diversity with a child’s open-hearted sensibility and a mother’s love. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5864-8

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1999

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TASTY BABY BELLY BUTTONS

PLB 0-679-99369-X Inspired by local versions of a popular Japanese folktale, Sierra (Antarctic Antics, 1998, etc.) recasts a yarn that usually stars Momotaro, or “Peach Boy,” with a female lead. When giant, ogre-like oni take away all the village’s babies to make snacks of their tasty navels, little Uriko-hime is left behind; she was born from a melon, and so has no belly button. Gathering up a small band of animal companions along the way, Uriko tricks the monsters into walloping themselves with clubs, and rescues the children, leaving delicious millet dumplings behind in consolation. Clad in a flowing, watermelon-colored kimono, Uriko makes a doughty heroine, equally skilled in cookery and swordplay; So’s art has a traditional look, with theatrically gesturing figures, busy crowd scenes, and energetic brushwork. A vigorously told comic adventure. (Picture book/folklore. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-679-89369-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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