LUCIA AND THE LIGHT

In Root’s original pourquois tale, Lucia skis up a mountain to find the sun that has abandoned her wintry land. Accompanied by the family’s clever “milk-white cat,” she’s menaced by giant trolls, who’ve hidden the sleeping sun to prevent its light from impeding their nonstop gorging. They taunt Lucia with a game of keep-away, using the rag-wrapped ball they claim is the sun. Lucia tries fooling them into thinking she’s got the sun by igniting moss in the tinderbox she brought—but the marauders are nonplussed. Before they can eat Lucia and “the pussums,” the cat bats the orb, which, losing its wrappings, rolls “right off the edge of the mountaintop and up into the sky, growing bigger and brighter as it climbed.” Root’s smooth, folkloric narration suits the story, but allowing the cat the glory renders Lucia less heroic. GrandPré’s charming full-bleed pastel illustrations effectively use perspective and color to show small Lucia’s pluck in taking on both the harsh landscape and the trolls. In all, a sturdy, satisfying venture. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2296-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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JOHNNY APPLESEED

Though she never says outright that he was a real person, Kurtz introduces newly emergent readers to the historical John Chapman, walking along the Ohio, planting apple seeds, and bartering seedlings to settlers for food and clothing. Haverfield supplies the legendary portions of his tale, with views of a smiling, stylishly ragged, clean-shaven young man, pot on head, wildlife on shoulder or trailing along behind. Kurtz caps her short, rhythmic text with an invitation to “Clap your hands for Johnny Chapman. / Clap your hands for Johnny Appleseed!” An appealing way to open discussions of our country’s historical or legendary past. (Easy reader/nonfiction. 5-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-85958-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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