THE DREAMKEEPER

Written as a letter to his granddaughter and full of lovely rhetorical and visual flourishes, Ingpen describes the fellow “who catches our bad dreams when they try to escape to become real.” He spins out a tale of the search and capture methods of the Dreamkeeper, his goblin Tally, who used to use a sword but now has a powerful remote control, and his sister, who makes syrups and potions to aid him. The images in this oversize volume echo and riff upon many icons, from Vermeer’s girl with a pitcher to garden gnomes, from Bosch to Rackham. The pictures range from full-page, fully finished works to stark white backgrounds where smaller images go from the palest hint of a sketch to fully realized and imagined. Toward the end of the tale, double spreads of astonishing creatures populate four wordless pages, but these do not include the fairies, who, we are told, cannot be caught. Many authors have produced less than good results trying to make a homespun family tale into a published creature; this one works. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-698-40036-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Minedition/Penguin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2006

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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THE KOREAN CINDERELLA

A retelling based on three of the ``half a dozen'' Korean Cinderella variants: ``Pear Blossom's'' stepmother calls her ``Little Pig,'' barely feeds her, and assigns her impossible tasks (filling a cracked jug), but the girl is helped by magical animals (a giant ox that weeds a rice paddy for her). A young magistrate, ``struck by her beauty,'' identifies her at a village festival by her lost sandal, and thus she makes an honorable marriage. The simple tale is retold in a vigorous, rather dramatic style. Heller, whose illustrations are based on her research in Korea, offers bold montages of figures and patterns in a striking array of intense colors. Her facial expressions are less expertly crafted than her realistic animals, sculptural draperies, and decorative traditional motifs, while the mix of styles leads to some cluttered effects; still, an attractive setting for a worthy variant. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-020432-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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