A writing, translation, and illustration masterpiece.

READ REVIEW

THE STORYTELLER OF DAMASCUS

A highly humorous book about tradition in changing times, bravery, and love, imported from Germany.

In this tale from Syrian-German author Schami, the old storyteller of Damascus used to carry a large, ornate chest on his back, with small holes in it through which children could peek to see scrolled pictures accompanying his stories. In one, he tells of Leyla, the beautiful daughter of a rich farmer, Sami the poor shepherd, and their enduring love in the face of all obstacles put forth by her father against their marriage. Sami manages to fend off robbers with his left hand while rescuing Leyla with his right; he scares lions with his left hand while milking a lioness with his right; and he is challenged to acquire Leyla’s dowry of 300 camels from the herd of the sultan himself! German illustrator Knorr’s jewel-toned illustrations are superbly detailed and sequenced artfully, the tale of Leyla and Sami organized in bordered panels to form an integral part of both plots. The happily-ever-after story of the two lovers always sounds fresh, but as time goes by, some of the images the storyteller uses fade away, and he replaces them with contemporary magazine clippings, playfully affecting the plot. Leyla becomes Colgate, who has “beautiful white teeth,” Sami’s donkey becomes a motorcycle, and he is helped at one point by a clown. The story goes on, becoming “weirder and weirder” as time goes on but still vital and wonderful.

A writing, translation, and illustration masterpiece. (Picture book. 8-12)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-62371-971-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

SPACE CASE

From the Moon Base Alpha series , Vol. 1

When Dr. Holtz’s body is discovered just outside the lunar colony, everyone assumes he made a mistake putting on his spacesuit—but 12-year-old Dashiell “Dash” Gibson has reason to believe this was no accident.

Earth’s first space base has been a living hell for Dash. There’s not much to do on the moon besides schoolwork and virtual-reality gaming, and there’s only a handful of kids his age up there with him. The chance to solve a murder is exactly the type of excitement Dash needs. As clues are found and secrets are uncovered, Dash comes to understand that some of the base’s residents aren’t what they seem to be. With a small cast of characters supplying an excellent variety of suspects, Gibbs creates the best kind of “murder on a train” mystery. The genius, however, is putting the train in space. Closed quarters and techno–mumbo-jumbo add delightful color to the proceedings. Thankfully, the author doesn’t let the high-concept setting overshadow the novel’s mystery. The whodunit is smartly paced and intricately plotted. Best of all, the reveal is actually worth all the buildup. Thrillers too often fly off the rails in their final moments, but the author’s steady hand keeps everything here on track.

Fully absorbing. (Mystery. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9486-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more