THE SANDMAN

For those who wonder how sleep comes, here’s the answer: It is due to the magical sand the tiny and daring Sandman, Tor, grinds from a dragon’s scale and sprinkles over sleepless children each night. While the mythical beast sleeps, the little old man braves the fire-breathing dragon’s lair, waiting for a chance to retrieve any scales that may pop off into the dust. Fletcher’s fantasy narrative fleshes out the familiar trope by combining worlds of fairy-tale-forest settings with average household bedtime environments. Much like a Santa Claus figure, each evening Tor rides through children’s bedroom windows on his miniature mouse-drawn button-wheeled cart to spread his sleep-inducing emerald sparkle-dust. Cowdrey’s deeply colored acrylics of flora, fauna, one frightfully greenish and nostril-smoking dragon, workshop scenes and angelically dozing children alternate with black-and-white images of a cherubic dimple-chinned bald and white mustachioed tiny gentleman hard at work. Bedtime fodder for the slightly older, wide-eyed and wakeful preschooler. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7726-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2008

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Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses...

BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, STRONG LITTLE ME!

This tan-skinned, freckle-faced narrator extols her own virtues while describing the challenges of being of mixed race.

Protagonist Lilly appears on the cover, and her voluminous curly, twirly hair fills the image. Throughout the rhyming narrative, accompanied by cartoonish digital illustrations, Lilly brags on her dark skin (that isn’t very), “frizzy, wild” hair, eyebrows, intellect, and more. Her five friends present black, Asian, white (one blonde, one redheaded), and brown (this last uses a wheelchair). This array smacks of tokenism, since the protagonist focuses only on self-promotion, leaving no room for the friends’ character development. Lilly describes how hurtful racial microaggressions can be by recalling questions others ask her like “What are you?” She remains resilient and says that even though her skin and hair make her different, “the way that I look / Is not all I’m about.” But she spends so much time talking about her appearance that this may be hard for readers to believe. The rhyming verse that conveys her self-celebration is often clumsy and forced, resulting in a poorly written, plotless story for which the internal illustrations fall far short of the quality of the cover image.

Mixed-race children certainly deserve mirror books, but they also deserve excellent text and illustrations. This one misses the mark on both counts. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63233-170-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Eifrig

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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ON MEADOWVIEW STREET

While her father mows the lawn at her new house, Caroline wonders how it could actually reflect the street’s name. Soon she finds a small blossom growing in the grass, then another, and eventually persuades Dad to sell the mower while the yard grows freely with wildflowers. Adding a maple tree and a man-made pond attracts an assortment of wildlife from birds, to insects, to a mud turtle and a meadow mouse. Neighbors are encouraged to follow suit, creating meadow environments rather than pristine lawns. Full-color acrylic paintings in double-paged spreads of multiple shades of green, dotted with hues of summer flowers, tell this nature-lover’s story which suggests the possibility of chemical-free garden environments. Though the message will be missed by young children, most will enjoy a final rendering of all the meadow creatures next to their proper names that now live on Meadowview Street. Gentle persuasion for the naturalist in everyone. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-056481-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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