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Kerven plays to believers in this distillation of magical lore from cultures worldwide. Urging young readers to disregard the skepticism of grown-ups, she surveys various sorts of magic workers, magical creatures, charms, kinds of spells and magical realms. She also sketchily retells seven vaguely sourced tales of spells and transformations and offers helpful advice on such topics as making wishes or breaking spells laid on others: “Kiss the animal or thing that your friend has turned into.” Anderson goes for humor and mystery in his small, elaborately modeled illustrations, throwing a lurid yellow-greenish light over portraits of witches and wizards with pointy hats, stunned-looking victims, rainbows ending in pots of gold and a black cat posing in various settings. Eurocentric slant aside (in her cameo, the Native-American Spider Woman has blond hair and European features), this joins the likes of Monika Beisner’s Secret Spells and Curious Charms (1985) as prime browsing material for young dreamers. (bibliography) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-84507-481-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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From the The 50 States series

Go adventuring with a better guide.

Find something to do in every state in the U.S.A.!

This guide highlights a location of interest within each of the states, therefore excluding Washington, D.C., and the territories. Trivia about each location is scattered across crisply rendered landscapes that background each state’s double-page spread while diminutive, diverse characters populate the scenes. Befitting the title, one “adventure” is presented per state, such as shrimping in Louisiana’s bayous, snowshoeing in Connecticut, or celebrating the Fourth of July in Boston. While some are stereotypical gimmes (surfing in California), others have the virtue of novelty, at least for this audience, such as viewing the sandhill crane migration in Nebraska. Within this thematic unity, some details go astray, and readers may find themselves searching in vain for animals mentioned. The trivia is plentiful but may be misleading, vague, or incorrect. Information about the Native American peoples of the area is often included, but its brevity—especially regarding sacred locations—means readers are floundering without sufficient context. The same is true for many of the facts that relate directly to expansion and colonialism, such as the unexplained near extinction of bison. Describing the genealogical oral history of South Carolina’s Gullah community as “spin[ning] tales” is equally brusque and offensive. The book tries to do a lot, but it is more style than substance, which may leave readers bored, confused, slightly annoyed—or all three. (This book was reviewed digitally with 12.2-by-20.2-inch double-page spreads viewed at 80% of actual size.)

Go adventuring with a better guide. (tips on local adventuring, index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-5445-9

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Mama God, Papa God ($15.95; Apr. 26; 32 pp.; 1-56656-307-0): The creation story takes a whimsical Caribbean turn in a seamless blend of religion and folk-art set in Haiti. Tired of living in darkness, Papa God creates light, then goes on to make the world as a beautiful gift for Mama God. Together, they design a detailed world filled with brilliance, love, and humor. Highly stylized illustrations rich in primary colors show the progress of creation as animals, birds, water, fish, wind, and rain take their place in the world. This unusual rendition of the creation tale sings to a calypso beat and gives a strikingly different and exuberant interpretation of how the world began. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: April 26, 1999

ISBN: 1-56656-307-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Interlink

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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