Modernized only minimally (texting!), the book’s appeal lies in these calmingly recognizable characters participating in...

BABAR'S CELESTEVILLE GAMES

From a franchise as sturdy as an elephant’s memory comes explicit international goodwill.

Celesteville is hosting the Worldwide Games, and animals arrive “from all over” to compete. Babar’s children, “now grown up,” watch the athletes in warm-ups, practices and matches. Pom and Isabelle enjoy the swimming and diving: Elephants, hippos and a big cat (lioness perhaps?) power gracefully though a pool in neat lanes; next, an elephant dives off a springboard, the illustration showing five sequential positions in the somersault. Flora and Alexander prefer track and field and gymnastics (“Who would have thought that hippos were almost as good at the high bar as elephants?”). Watching, Flora falls in love with pole-vaulter Coriander, an athlete from a foreign land. Here the story segues into a gentle cultural acceptance lesson: Flora’s mother Celeste must adjust to Cory’s “small ears,” a trait of his Mirzi nationality, and Cory’s parents must accept that he didn’t choose “a girl from Mirza.” Flora roots for Mirza in the sporting events, which concerns Celeste until Babar reassures her, “I think it is love. And I think it will be good for all of us.” The wedding takes places in Celesteville but with Mirzi clothing and customs, an agreement that pleases everyone.

Modernized only minimally (texting!), the book’s appeal lies in these calmingly recognizable characters participating in Olympic sports and a mixed marriage. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4197-0006-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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Too many bugs, figuratively.

LUCY'S LIGHT

Lucy, “the youngest member of a family of fireflies,” must overcome an irrational, moon-induced anxiety in order to leave her family tree trunk and glow.

The first six pages pull readers into a lush, beautiful world of nighttime: “When the sun has set, silence falls over the Big Forest, and all of the nighttime animals wake up.” Mixed media provide an enchanting forest background, with stylized flora and fauna eventually illuminated by a large, benign moon, because the night “doesn’t like to catch them by surprise.” Turning the page catches readers by surprise, though: the family of fireflies is decidedly comical and silly-looking. Similarly, the text moves from a lulling, magical cadence to a distinct shift in mood as the bugs ready themselves for their foray into the night: “They wave their bottoms in the air, wiggle their feelers, take a deep, deep breath, and sing, ‘Here we go, it’s time to glow!’ ” It’s an acceptable change, but more unevenness follows. Lucy’s excitement about finally joining the other bugs turns to “sobbing” two nights in a row. Instead of directly linking her behavior to understandable reactions of children to newness, the text undermines itself by making Lucy’s parents’ sweet reassurances impotent and using the grandmother’s scientific explanation of moonlight as an unnecessary metaphor. Further detracting from the story, the text becomes ever denser and more complex over the book’s short span.

Too many bugs, figuratively. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-84-16147-00-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Cuento de Luz

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave...

RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL

Rufus Leroy Williams III is determined to learn how to read, but can he convince Principal Lipid to allow a pig in school?

Rufus makes the best of his illiteracy by imagining his own stories to go with the pictures in his favorite book, but still he longs to read. The tiny pig knows just how to solve his problem, though: With a backpack, he can go to school. But Principal Lipid seems to think it takes more than a backpack to attend school—if you are a pig, that is, since pigs are sure to wreak all sorts of havoc in school: track mud, start food fights, etc. Rufus decides a lunchbox is just the ticket, but the principal feels differently. Maybe a blanket for naptime? Or promises not to engage in specific behaviors? Nope. But the real necessary items were with Rufus all along—a book and the desire to learn to read it. Gorbachev’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations emphasize Rufus’ small size, making both his desire and the principal’s rejection seem that much larger. Parents and teachers beware: The humorous pages of imagined, naughty behavior may be more likely to catch children’ eyes than Rufus’ earnestly good behavior.

But it is the parting sentence that will hit home with everyone: “But Rufus loved storytime most of all… / …because it gave him room to dream.” (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4549-0416-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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