SOMEBODY SPILLED THE SKY

Drizzle tonight off the east coast of my head," reads Krauss' weather report, assuring old admirers that her head still grooves to its own isobars; and "b Ballet" encourages readers to let go too: ". . . be a button they push you and the moon comes out." Besides the ballet, she comes up with offbeat operas ("littlekid opera" consists almost entirely of "Bow wow wow" repeated), plays ("Bells" has a man deliver the sun to a little girl's apartment), songs, and a "sonnet" in which each of the 14 lines consists of the one word NO. (The title, perversely, is "Ten Nos," and the pictures show ten naughty rabbits provoking them.) Not everything here is new; for example, "beginning on paper," which ends "I write my name," reaches back to Krauss' 1970 picture-book-length "I Write It," and "A Beautiful Day" (complete text: "GIRL: What a beautiful day)/THE SUN falls down on the stage.") is straight from The Cantilevered Rainbow, published in 1965 for ages 13+. Reviewers then found the selection too avant-garde for teenagers, and perhaps it will find a wider audience in the freer picture-book world—though who's to know if it will say more to this age group? But the main problem here is that Hazard's illustrations aren't wiggy enough to make the most of it. Her children cavort jubilantly, and her animals—the rampaging rabbits, lambs romping in poppies, dogs cutting up in a classroom—are cute enough for a more everyday show of high spirits. But she throws away the title line with a blue splot, and overall her ordinary-looking black line and pale blue pictures betray a literal, linear sensibility when what is called for is the abandon of Bileck's Rain Makes Applesauce.

Pub Date: March 12, 1979

ISBN: 0688801862

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1979

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DEATH BENEFITS

In this character-driven intergenerational story, Royce Peterson and his single mother have recently moved from Nova Scotia to British Columbia to help care for Arthur, Royce’s 95-year-old grandfather and one of the greatest cellists of the 20th century. After the curmudgeon chases off every aide, the teen is enlisted to watch his grandfather. At first the homesick, friendless and mono-recovering teen and his homebound, rude and crude grandfather are at odds, but then Royce gains new appreciation for Arthur—he caroused with Gloria Vanderbilt and Picasso, traveled the world, loved and lost loves—and Arthur begins to appreciate life again. But just as the pair begins to respect each other, Arthur suffers a series of debilitating strokes and asks Royce to end his life. Inspired by her experience caring for her aged father, Harvey offers a realistic view of the aging process, the difficult decisions left to loved ones and the need for friends and family. Sophisticated readers and fans of Joan Bauer’s Rules of the Road (1998) or Louis Sachar's The Cardturner (2010) will enjoy the grandfather-grandson banter and tenderness. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-55146-226-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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Interesting and well written but problematic in its conceptualization of a generic Africa and Africans.

THE HAWKWEED LEGACY

Witch queen Poppy Hawkweed returns in this sequel to The Hawkweed Prophecy (2016).

After the events of the last book, Poppy attempts to escape her new life as a witch queen by transforming into a swallow and migrating to Africa, though to what part of the vast continent is unclear. There, white Poppy’s taken in by a medicine maker, Mma, and her dark-skinned great-grandson, Teko. Though Mma and Teko are initially portrayed as likable characters, they eventually imprison Poppy, ostensibly for her own good, as they’ve seen a vision that she will be killed if she returns to England. Back in England, the third-person narrative perspective shifts among characters and times. There’s Poppy’s birth mother, Charlock, both in the present and when she was younger, as well as Leo, Ember, and Betony, Leo’s mother. Through the many lenses and back stories readers learn of Leo’s conception and what became of Betony, who left the witches to have her son. Teko eventually allows Poppy to escape, and once back in England, she’s bullied into taking up her queendom. But there are many twists and turns and painful betrayals to be hashed out before there’s a chance of happily ever after. Though themes of sisterhood are strong, most female relationships are interrupted, if not broken, by male intrusion. The real unbreakable bond in these stories is that between mother and child.

Interesting and well written but problematic in its conceptualization of a generic Africa and Africans. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60286-314-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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