Odds and ends from a crack short-story craftsman, reprinted from The Saturday Evening Post and other magazines in a calculated bid for young readers. In the title story, by far the longest, an idle playboy takes up yogi concentration for gain, then—altered by the practice—uses the powers so acquired for charity. A trimmer, equally colorful sketch concerns the pickpocket "Hitchhiker" who lifts the narrator's wallet, keys, and jewelry while goading him to guess his occupation. In the two entries with young protagonists, real high-tension physical dangers are transcended in fantasy endings; and there is a reasonably diverting nonfiction piece about a guileless plowman who uncovers an archaeological treasure. Without the bite of Dahl's top adult fiction these slick stories crackle with old-fashioned entertainment value, but it takes all the good will they can build up to applaud the autobiographical success story "Lucky Break"—which accompanies a competent but typical WW II combat story, the last entry here but the first in Dahl's writing career. This ploy gives the whole collection a self-indulgent tinge.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1977

ISBN: 037581423X

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1977

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It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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