A delightful story of an antagonist who becomes a little less antagonistic because of one smart and kind boy.



A determined little boy finds truth in his father’s words about the larger-than-life catfish on the end of his fishing line.

Tired of gumbo, Thibodeaux boards his pirogue and heads for Bayou Fryou to catch Pantagruel, “that big old catfish” with three hooks in his mouth. Thibodeaux nabs the wily fish with bacon and bread, giving him the fourth hook, but Pantagruel demands that the boy cut the line. If he doesn’t, Pantagruel promises to drag him “all the way to Longue Chaise Bay, where the giant crabs will eat you.” Despite disadvantages of size and strength, Thibodeaux refuses. When no one comes to his rescue, he must solve this conundrum himself. Peppered with French Creole words and references to New Orleans cuisine, this story offers a glimpse into Louisiana bayou folklore. While young readers will enjoy hearing of Thibodeaux’s solo adventure, Casey’s illustrations give the story a distinctive mood. The painterly, acrylic-on-canvas paintings have a black background, and Casey makes some scenes intentionally out of focus to increase the mystery of events. She also uses perspective to good effect, often putting readers right up to Pantagruel’s mouth—hooks and all. As Thibodeaux moves back toward safety, blues and reds replace blacks, lightening the mood as the conflict resolves.

A delightful story of an antagonist who becomes a little less antagonistic because of one smart and kind boy. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9986362-0-7

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Solomon & George Publishers

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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