SMALL CAMEL FOLLOWS THE STAR

Small Camel and his mama belong to Balthazar, “a wise and wealthy man.” Balthazar plans for a long journey across the desert, and deems Small Camel grown enough for the journey, bearing one small parcel. Following a star, they meet up with Melchior and Gaspar, who study scrolls with Balthazar. They add their gifts to Small Camel’s hump and the travelers continue their journey. Because the star is to lead them to a baby king, Small Camel is surprised at the very modest house in which they find Joseph, Mary and the beautiful baby Jesus. When the baby smiles at the gold, frankincense and myrrh that Small Camel has been carrying, the little camel forgets how tired he is. Ferri’s pictures have soft edges and glowing desert colors using interesting perspectives to capture Small Camel’s point of view. While one might quibble that the Wise Men would not have had codex volumes next to their scrolls as Balthazar does, this is a lovely approach to an age-old story. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8075-7453-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER

From the How To Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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LIBRARY LION

Knudsen and Hawkes pick a perfect setting to express the idea that breaking rules can sometimes be a good thing. When a lion wanders into a small town public library the Head Librarian, Miss Merriweather, brushes off the protestations of her realistically officious colleague Mr. McBee and allows it to stay—so long as it keeps quiet, doesn’t run and makes itself useful cleaning books and licking envelopes while waiting for storytime to begin. Anxious-looking patrons of all ages quickly become accepting ones in Hawkes’s soft toned watercolors, and if Miss Merriweather’s hair and dress seem a bit stereotypical, occasional CRT monitors balance glimpses of rubber date stamps and a card catalog in his gracious, old style interiors. When Miss Merriweather takes a fall, the lion roars to attract help, then slinks out in shame—but McBee redeems himself by bustling out into the rain to inform the offender that Exceptions to the Rules are sometimes allowed. Consider this a less prescriptive alternative to Eric A. Kimmel’s I Took My Frog to the Library (1990), illustrated by Blanche Sims—and it doesn’t hurt that the maned visitor is as huge and friendly looking as the one in James Daugherty’s classic Andy and the Lion. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7636-2262-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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