In this charming, comfortably old-fashioned story, set between the World Wars around a crumbling 600-year-old castle, everyone knows and agrees on the rules; a meanie's attempt to frame a conscientious servant of the king is easily seen through by the authority in charge; and army jam is put in its place. Sergeant George Harington, a one-armed war veteran appointed keeper of the castle, is an avid castle historian and diligent caretaker. Lord Badger, Harington's officer during the war, is his superior. Both hated the bad jam made by another local resident, Sir Anderson Wigg, who got rich by selling it to the wartime army. And so, when a silly pub argument between Harington and Wigg's chauffeur leads to a plot between Wigg and his chauffeur to discredit Harington, Lord Badger supports the keeper and gives the villains their comeuppance. Like a satisfying folk tale, the story ends with justice amplified: Sergeant Harington and his son Giles, named for the castle's original knight, find a 600-year-old treasure which the original Giles had sealed in a tower during a fatal battle we've already heard of. (This story, we're told in an appendix, is a similar treasure, discovered in a manuscript 50 years after its creation.) Both the matter of false blame and the conspirators' methods (from fabrications to scattering litter for incriminating evidence) are well geared to a child's perspective, and this is reinforced in Graves' earnest manner of telling. His niece Elizabeth Graves' decorous, naive drawings suit it well.

Pub Date: June 15, 1982

ISBN: 0935576339

Page Count: 70

Publisher: Michael Kesend

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1982

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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


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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