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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A well-meaning, awkward cautionary tale.

THE CHOLO TREE

Boxed in by societal prejudices, a young Chicano struggles to find his identity.

Split into two separate periods, Chacón’s insightful novel portrays the trials of Victor Reyes, a death metal–loving, artistic teen who’s seemingly ill-fated in life. In the book’s first half, 14-year-old Victor recovers from a shooting—he was dead for a hair over 2 minutes—that leaves him with a fuzzy memory. Almost everyone, including his mom, believes he’s a cholo, a gangbanger destined for trouble. Though Victor tries his best to mend his relationship with his mom, he frequently ends up in incriminating situations. Meanwhile, Victor meets and falls for a feisty part-Mexican, part-Indian girl. The story moves at a meandering pace, which Chacón uses to sketch in disjointed details. Victor’s first-person narration doesn’t stand out in any particular way, but each of the diverse supporting characters features a distinct, if stereotypical, voice to fill in that void. The novel’s second half focuses on 17-year-old Victor, a senior succeeding in school and love. A supportive teacher helps him refine his artistic goals, pushing him to apply for art school. But Victor’s anger and past won’t let him go, and soon he’s knee-deep in the cholo life. Overall, the author employs a well-worn redemption arc, and the often clunky, self-conscious narration doesn’t really help to make it feel fresh: “They looked sort of geeky cool, like journalism students, the kind of kids that YA novels are written about.”

A well-meaning, awkward cautionary tale. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-55885-840-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arté Público

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The handsome production values and sincere enthusiasm can’t be denied, but it’s hard to imagine the right audience for this...

STEAMPUNK ALPHABET

Letter by letter, Iwata builds a steampunk world for a story that does not exist and formats it for an audience that can’t possibly comprehend it.

This alphabet board book presents gizmos galore, each handsomely presented with puffs of steam and ornate clockwork decorations. Through the artifacts described, adult readers can begin to understand the civilization that spawned them. A is for Apple (an apple-shaped music box, that is); J is for Jar (a self-opening one); Y is for Yarn (actually, a device that unravels knitwear and re-spools the constituent yarns). Each contrivance is depicted in loving detail, colors applied with an airbrushed (or digital) polish. A short gloss explains its origin and/or use, and it is celebrated in limping verse, as for Helmet: “With steam-powered engines in every household / A good fuel source was more precious than gold / Miners dug deep in the earth and discovered / They stood more of a chance if they kept their heads covered.” Except for the roughly 6-inch-square trim, board pages and large capital letters (presented against a too-busy background of interlocking gears), there is nothing in this book for the traditional board-book audience.

The handsome production values and sincere enthusiasm can’t be denied, but it’s hard to imagine the right audience for this book . (Board book. 13 & up)

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-937359-40-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Cameron + Company

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more