PACK OF CARDS: Stories: 1978-1986

Though Lively (Moon Tiger; Perfect Happiness) can be satirical, even wicked, these 36 stories (two earlier collections from England plus assorted recent stories, some published in US magazines) are mostly gentle, affectionate portraits of English men and women who muddle through. While there's a host of types and situations here, most center on village streets, petty bourgeoisie society, and academia. In truth, when a character in "Venice, Now and Then" says that "Things are so inconstant. That's the trouble," she could be speaking for most of her fictional cohorts: an aging English lady with insomnia ("The Voice of God in Adelaide Terrace"); a befuddled housewife whose "treasure" of a maid turns out to be a domineering sneak-thief ("Help"); and a professor suffering through the small humiliations of academia ("Revenant as Typewriter"), among many others. In addition to "Help," other notables include: "Nothing Missing but the Samovar," about a German Anglophile who spends a touching season with a sympathetically drawn family of shabbygenteel aristocrats at the end of their economic tether; "Corruption," a delicately textured portrait involving an aging judge, his wife, a female interloper, and a box of confiscated pornography; "The Pill Box," very short and a little metafictional ("How, having glimpsed the possibility of the impossible, can the world remain as steady as you had supposed?"); and" The Dream Merchant," a whimsical portrait of a sensible man who sells dreams from 9:30-5:00 but doesn't believe in them: "that was the secret of his success." Occasionally cloying or thin, but mostly solid work, full of character, incident, and elegiac charm.

Pub Date: March 11, 1986

ISBN: 8021-1156-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

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RABBIT'S PAJAMA PARTY

PLB 0-06-027617-7 paper 0-06-446722-8 New to the MathStart series is this quick take on sequencing, although almost any story with a beginning, middle, and end would serve as well. A sleepover is the premise; Rabbit invites his friends Mouse, Giraffe, and Elephant to the party. The action is described in a few short rhyming sentences that outline the order of events. Friends are invited inside, a pizza dinner is gobbled up, juice follows dinner, and ice cream sundaes for dessert conclude the meal. At bedtime, the four friends pull on their pajamas and zip themselves into sleeping bags while Rabbit’s mother takes a picture. Hand shadows and scary stories come with lights out, until Mouse is heard snoring peacefully. Just when it appears that it may be a stretch to locate the math involved, a final page asks, “What Happened at Rabbit’s Pajama Party?” to prompt children to think about what happened first, next, and last. Although Remkiewicz wiggles out of showing “hot fudge” by present a bottle of chocolate syrup instead, no one will question the accuracy of his animals’ zeal; they are all smiles, delightfully displaying silly expressions. Characteristically, the final spread offers tips and suggestions for adults who may want to extend the sequencing concept with follow-up activities. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-027616-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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OINK!

Toddler-size sleuths can match cheerful barnyard animals to their appropriate sounds in this sparkling board book from Wojtowycz. Each spread features the typical habitat for a familiar animal, such as a grassy paddock or a clear blue lake. One page frames the question about a typical animal sound, such as, “Who says . . . Oink Oink?” The answer will be one of four friendly farm animals—duck, cow, pig, and horse—suspended on a colored ribbon, which can be placed into a slot on the facing page. Jewel tones dominate the illustrations; the color-coordinated ribbons provide additional clues to the correct answers. Deceptively simple in appearance, this wonderfully resourceful book is packed with learning opportunities, including reading, since every creature is labeled on one side with its name. An engaging first look at some favorite animals of the toddler set. (Board book. 2-5)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-86233-084-0

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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