JUST SO STORIES

VOLUME II

Wallace follows up his first volume of reillustrated Kipling pourquois tales (2013) with its companion.

Limpid mixed-media paintings depict Painted Jaguar lecturing the Stickly-Prickly Hedgehog (a tiny ball of spines), Tegumai the Neolithic man thigh-deep in the river lamenting his broken spear, and the Cat that walked by himself going deep into the Wet Wild Woods. Following the format of the earlier volume, one full-page painting opens each story, and then three more appear within, sometimes occupying a whole page and sometimes stretching across the tops of two and straddling the gutter. Appropriately for this illustrated book of stories, he focuses the cover on the pieces of birch bark from “How the First Letter Was Written” and “How the Alphabet Was Made,” held by Taffy Metallumai and her daddy; on the wraparound rear cover are Cat, Hedgehog and King Crab, all staring solemnly out at readers. Detailed illustrator’s notes explain Wallace’s approach, story by story, revealing connections among them and providing background information. He plants a smiling “wild thing” on Taffy’s Neolithic cave wall in homage to Sendak and uses pencil crayon, pastel pencil and chalk to “capture the scorching sun of a desert country” in another story. Glorious as the illustrations are, they complement rather than undercutting Kipling’s rolling lines: “But…when the moon gets up and night comes, he is the Cat that walks by himself, and all places are alike to him.”

A triumph . (Short stories. 5 & up)

Pub Date: April 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-55498-213-4

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Groundwood

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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Hee haw.

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THE WONKY DONKEY

The print version of a knee-slapping cumulative ditty.

In the song, Smith meets a donkey on the road. It is three-legged, and so a “wonky donkey” that, on further examination, has but one eye and so is a “winky wonky donkey” with a taste for country music and therefore a “honky-tonky winky wonky donkey,” and so on to a final characterization as a “spunky hanky-panky cranky stinky-dinky lanky honky-tonky winky wonky donkey.” A free musical recording (of this version, anyway—the author’s website hints at an adults-only version of the song) is available from the publisher and elsewhere online. Even though the book has no included soundtrack, the sly, high-spirited, eye patch–sporting donkey that grins, winks, farts, and clumps its way through the song on a prosthetic metal hoof in Cowley’s informal watercolors supplies comical visual flourishes for the silly wordplay. Look for ready guffaws from young audiences, whether read or sung, though those attuned to disability stereotypes may find themselves wincing instead or as well.

Hee haw. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-545-26124-1

Page Count: 26

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2018

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Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new...

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THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN

How Ivan confronts his harrowing past yet stays true to his nature exemplifies everything youngsters need to know about courage.

Living in a "domain" of glass, metal and cement at the Big Top Mall, Ivan sometimes forgets whether to act like a gorilla or a human—except Ivan does not think much of humans. He describes their behavior as frantic, whereas he is a peaceful artist. Fittingly, Ivan narrates his tale in short, image-rich sentences and acute, sometimes humorous, observations that are all the more heartbreaking for their simple delivery. His sorrow is palpable, but he stoically endures the cruelty of humans until Ruby the baby elephant is abused. In a pivotal scene, Ivan finally admits his domain is a cage, and rather than let Ruby live and die in grim circumstances, he promises to save her. In order to express his plea in a painting, Ivan must bravely face buried memories of the lush jungle, his family and their brutal murder, which is recounted in a brief, powerful chapter sure to arouse readers’ passions. In a compelling ending, the more challenging question Applegate poses is whether or not Ivan will remember what it was like to be a gorilla. Spot art captures poignant moments throughout.

Utterly believable, this bittersweet story, complete with an author’s note identifying the real Ivan, will inspire a new generation of advocates. (author’s note) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-199225-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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