BLOSSOM CULP AND THE SLEEP OF DEATH

From the Blossom Culp series , Vol. 4

Fans of the unflappable Blossom Culp and Alexander Armsworth, her unwitting companion in the occult, will welcome this fourth book about Blossom with open arms. The impoverished Blossom, a freshman in Bluff City High School's Class of 1918, and still an outcast (her mother, a gypsy fortuneteller, spends her nights roaming through Bluff City, stealing junk to resell as "antiques") is pleasantly surprised by her new history teacher. Augusta Fairweather is young, outspoken, and a supporter of the suffragette cause; she immerses her students in an unorthodox (for 1914) study of ancient Egypt. Blossom is fascinated, and no sooner has she delved into the mysteries of pyramids, tombs, and mummies than she is visited by the "spiritual self' of Princess Sat-Hathor, who has been buried (but not quite dead) for about 3800 years. The princess gives Blossom the task of recovering and returning to her Egyptian tomb "everything beautiful and necessary" that had been taken by thieves 50 years earlier. The deed seems nearly impossible, but Blossom enlists Alexander's begrudging help, and with the force of their combined powers and a lot of luck, Blossom manages not only to satisfy the demanding princess, but to give her nemesis, Letty Shambagh, her comeuppance. This story provides an engaging glimpse into the simpler, yet somehow not so different life-style of 70 years ago, while poking fun at the social structure of a small town. Blossom remains a memorable, indomitable character. If readers can overlook several unbelievable coincidences that help her accomplish her task, they'll enjoy this offbeat, spirited tale of a resourceful girl facing a challenge with courage and humor.

Pub Date: March 7, 1986

ISBN: 0440901251

Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1986

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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