JIM’S LION

Jim is in the hospital, seriously ill and facing surgery; he knows he might die. He’s too frail for surgery and he’s afraid. Nurse Bami is “from Africa; she had tribal scars on her cheeks. She had seen lions, elephants, crocodiles.” And she is able to facilitate Jim’s ability to find the strength to fight for his life. She tells him to go to a good place in his mind where his “finder” can come to him and bring him back. In a series of dreams, Jim visits a lonely place by the sea and discovers that his finder is a lion. Ultimately, his lion is the source of the strength and courage he needs to be able to recover sufficiently to come home for Christmas. Jim’s story is beautifully told in a measured progression of conversations between Nurse Bami and Jim and a series of Jim’s dreams. Though the text is lengthy and the subject matter serious and complex, the pencil-and-pastel illustrations perfectly match the gentle, soft tone and enhance the dreamlike qualities. The muted quality of the light, the translucence of the lion, and the slightly out-of-focus figures are all a perfect match for the ethereal tone of the narrative. The oversized trim and borderless double spreads beckon the reader into the good place where the finders can come for them too. Hoban has taken a difficult subject and created an artful story, avoiding both preachiness and sappiness. The ending offers great hope but no miraculous cures. Effective for one-on-one reading with a child who’s facing any type of difficulty for which inner strength is needed. Beautiful and comforting. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7636-1175-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2001

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THE SNAIL AND THE WHALE

Like an ocean-going “Lion and the Mouse,” a humpback whale and a snail “with an itchy foot” help each other out in this cheery travelogue. Responding to a plaintive “Ride wanted around the world,” scrawled in slime on a coastal rock, whale picks up snail, then sails off to visit waters tropical and polar, stormy and serene before inadvertently beaching himself. Off hustles the snail, to spur a nearby community to action with another slimy message: “SAVE THE WHALE.” Donaldson’s rhyme, though not cumulative, sounds like “The house that Jack built”—“This is the tide coming into the bay, / And these are the villagers shouting, ‘HOORAY!’ / As the whale and the snail travel safely away. . . .” Looking in turn hopeful, delighted, anxious, awed, and determined, Scheffler’s snail, though tiny next to her gargantuan companion, steals the show in each picturesque seascape—and upon returning home, provides so enticing an account of her adventures that her fellow mollusks all climb on board the whale’s tail for a repeat voyage. Young readers will clamor to ride along. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-8037-2922-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2004

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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