The title story, plus two that are also about the transmutation of toys, plus a fourth that ties the other three together—presented, however, in a picture-book format (with full-color pictures) that makes the book look too young for the out-of-the-way, and somewhat subtle, stories. In the title story, a tin frog enamored of the lady in the picture on the inside of a La Corona cigar-box lid, finds out (via tips from a magnifying glass, a tape measure, and a seashell) how to get between the dots in the picture and join her. In the second, somewhat similar tale, a tin horseman is united with a "yellow-haired princess" in a "weather castle. . . printed on a card." (The eerie difference has to do with a glass-topped box with little silver halls to be shaken into a monkey's eyes—a terrifying prospect to the tin horseman, who therefore smashes the glass.) The third and most remote involves a night watchman, made of wood, whose "real job was burning incense," and a tin crocodile on wheels. The night watchman is "burning to say something," the crocodile fancies himself literary; and one midnight when the tin watchman does say something properly cryptic ("NOW IS THE ONLY TIME THERE IS!"), the crocodile composes a poem from it—which the spinster mouse, who edits "a literary quarterly," will publish. The last is reverberant—and would make a fine capstone for the group were each more accessible. Quite simply, the clock has noticed that the magic always occurs in "that crucial moment. . . just after his hands touched midnight and just before he sounded his twelve strokes." So, wanting to do something himself in that "in-between moment," he slips out of his case—and La Corona ceases to be "only a picture" and joins the frog in the room, the tin horseman and his princess also materialize together, the incense-burning night watchman finds he can speak the others' language; and as they follow the "clock's escapement" out the window, "whoever lived in the red-and-yellow glass-topped box that had been the monkey game of skill," joins them. "'They'll want me too,' he said. 'Everyone can't be nice.'" More appropriately presented, the quartet might bc worthwhile for children who take to this very particular kind of English magic As it is, though, the book is unlikely to find its few rightful readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 1981

ISBN: 0091767202

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Jonathan Cape/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1981

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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