AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT

The talented San Souci brothers take on the Brothers Grimm’s “Clever Elsie,” and the result is an entirely new story which, though it retains the folksy quality and quirky absurdity of the original, recasts the characters, adds a moral and tidies up the ambiguous ending. When twin bear cubs Jonas and Juniper are temporarily put in charge of the family farm, chaos quickly ensues. Many of the twins’ problems—and, ironically, the solutions to those problems—come from taking their parents’ directions too literally. For example, they are able to retrieve the family fortune only because, warned to guard the cottage door, they take it with them as they hunt down the thieves, and the door winds up knocking said thieves senseless. By story’s end, the cubs have repaired all the damage they’ve caused and discovered in the process that things go much more smoothly when they put their heads together. Daniel San Souci’s detailed watercolor illustrations contribute to the quaint feel of this effort and lend it a bit of welcome emotional depth as well. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-87483-833-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: August House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2008

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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