A frequent author retells old stories and, in effect, fashions new ones to fill a void that—he says in his preface—he deplores. Arranged geographically from northeast to west (including Alaska and Hawaii), these 15 tales of clever, strong- willed, or larger-than-life women represent several cultures- -Anglo-, Native-, African-, and Mexican-American. Introductory remarks discuss locale or culture or note parallels in world folklore. The results are entertaining and often tellable. Yet San Souci alters stories to suit his purpose: e.g., the woman he calls ``Old Sally Cato'' is unnamed in his Missouri source, while the male giant she kills was ``Bally Sally Cato''; even the African-American connection seems tenuous. Compared to one cited source, ``Annie Christmas'' is cleaned up almost beyond recognition. Neither is the subtitle quite accurate: two protagonists are sisters under the fur. And while the animal tales enhance ethnicity (``Sister Fox...'' is the only Mexican American tale), they have a mean-spirited tone not found in the others. Detailed notes give clues to how much San Souci has embellished, rather than ``collected,'' here; Pinkney's handsome b&w scratchboard illustrations and a spacious layout give the book a distinguished look. As they stand, the stories are useful; but it would be more honest to explain the rationale for the substantial revisions. Brief introduction by Jane Yolen; map; bibliography. (Folklore. 8+)

Pub Date: April 21, 1993

ISBN: 0-399-21987-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)


In this delightfully spare narrative in verse, Coretta Scott King Award–winning Grimes examines a marriage’s end from the perspective of a child.

Set mostly in the wake of her father’s departure, only-child Gabby reveals with moving clarity in these short first-person poems the hardship she faces relocating with her mother and negotiating the further loss of a good friend while trying to adjust to a new school. Gabby has always been something of a dreamer, but when she begins study in her new class, she finds her thoughts straying even more. She admits: “Some words / sit still on the page / holding a story steady. / … / But other words have wings / that wake my daydreams. / They … / tickle my imagination, / and carry my thoughts away.” To illustrate Gabby’s inner wanderings, Grimes’ narrative breaks from the present into episodic bursts of vivid poetic reminiscence. Luckily, Gabby’s new teacher recognizes this inability to focus to be a coping mechanism and devises a daily activity designed to harness daydreaming’s creativity with a remarkably positive result for both Gabby and the entire class. Throughout this finely wrought narrative, Grimes’ free verse is tight, with perfect breaks of line and effortless shifts from reality to dream states and back.

An inspirational exploration of caring among parent, teacher and child—one of Grimes’ best. (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59078-985-8

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Lovingly crafted metafictive silliness both experimental and engaging.


Comedian and actor Ayoade explores storytelling and books themselves.

Readers are quickly introduced to the premise: The narrator of this book…is the book itself. Directly addressing the audience, the narrator waxes philosophical about judging books by covers before plunging readers into a story told in second person about a child who finds “a particular Book That No One Wanted To Read” on a library shelf. Interspersed with imagined, telepathic dialogue between reader and book, this delightfully droll work casually covers everything from footnotes to story structure; information about excess unwanted books being “pulped” by publishers leads to a gag about the book not wanting to be recycled into toilet paper. The design is clean, with different fonts effectively used to maintain speaker clarity, and facts about books blend beautifully with wacky, tongue-in-cheek illustrations. The character “you” is a reader stand-in with a humorous composite depiction (and so lacks race, gender, or any other identity, though other people depicted throughout are diverse in skin tone). In many ways a spiritual successor to B.J. Novak’s The Book With No Pictures (2014), the book (and Book, the character) will encourage readers to approach literature with a sense of play.

Lovingly crafted metafictive silliness both experimental and engaging. (Illustrated fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 14, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2216-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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