From little variations in habit, big changes occur, and everyone seems happier, including young readers.

WHO LEFT THE LIGHT ON?

“This is my town, / simple and typical. / Each house has a door, / two windows, a red roof / —all so predictable.”

The unseen inhabitants follow suit: “At sundown, the neighbors close their shutters—goodnight! / At daybreak, they open them—oh so polite.” The identical houses, created in what appears to be digital collage and arranged in a geometric grid, give the initial pages a quiltlike appearance, the compositions flat but appealing. “But then one night…someone leaves on their light! / And in the morning, what a shock! / The shutters are sealed tight!” The neighbors gossip about this “irksome behavior,” but soon the rebel leaves. The house falls into disrepair, and the town destroys it. They eventually come back, with architectural elements gathered from the world over, and construct a “comical” house with a Russian onion dome, Dutch windmill vanes, and the upturned eaves of a Japanese temple roof, all above similarly disparate features. Yes, some of the elements are stereotypical, but the “oddball’s” creativity starts the ball rolling. Beginning with blue shutters on one house, everyone starts innovating. There’s “an open-air bathroom” and “a house made of sticks.” The houses grow ever more idiosyncratic, and soon the comical house doesn’t stand out at all. This translation from the French, told in simple rhyme, will inspire young architects to think outside the box.

From little variations in habit, big changes occur, and everyone seems happier, including young readers. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63206-189-8

Page Count: 30

Publisher: Restless Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them.

STUMPKIN

A stemless pumpkin who isn’t chosen gets the best Halloween of all.

On the shelves outside a shop in a busy city, a shopkeeper makes a display of orange pumpkins and a single yellow gourd. They are all sizes and shapes and have lovely stems, save for one. Poor Stumpkin worries that, despite his good qualities, his stemlessness will prevent him from becoming a jack-o’-lantern like all the other pumpkins that go home with customers to decorate the windows across the street. On Halloween night, he alone is left (even the gourd went home with someone!). So the shopkeeper scoops him up. The spreads that follow are marvelous, wordless creations that will delight young readers: A black spread is followed by one with an orange-rimmed white triangle on the verso, then one with similar triangles on both pages. “Stumpkin wouldn’t be getting a window. And he wouldn’t be getting a new home. // He already had a home.” The final page shows Stumpkin as a jack-o’-lantern back on the shelves with the shopkeeper’s friendly black cat. Though undoubtedly feel-good, the book may leave readers wondering exactly what it’s saying about Stumpkin’s physical irregularity—is it some kind of disability metaphor? The city sights, people, and animals other than the cat are all black silhouettes, keeping the focus on Stumpkin.

Kids may choose differently at the pumpkin patch after reading this tale, though any deeper message may be lost on them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-1362-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more