CROSS A BRIDGE

Young construction and transportation enthusiasts are inducted into the world of bridges with this boldly illustrated primer. Four blue rivers slice the green grassy plains of endpapers, punctuated by eight kinds of bridges, from suspension and trestle to pontoon and beam. Miller arranges clean-cut geometric shapes and flat, bright colors into arresting compositions: A lone beam bridge stretches diagonally across a wide blue lake, while suspension and arch bridges surround a city skyline. The text is exceedingly brief and oversimplified; at times it is perfunctory, with an emphasis—on the crossing of bridges rather than on static structures—that may confuse some children: “They carry cars full of people. They carry trucks, busses, and trains, too, full of people and all kinds of things that people need.” The height and length of bridges in Colorado and New Orleans are mentioned but never named; there’s a cursory reference to the more than 30 bridges of Paris. The text finally takes flight on the last page, reaching beyond the mechanical, with “Bridges are for sitting, and fishing, and wishing.” (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-8234-1340-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1998

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THE GRUFFALO

The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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THE LION & THE MOUSE

A nearly wordless exploration of Aesop’s fable of symbiotic mercy that is nothing short of masterful.

A mouse, narrowly escaping an owl at dawn, skitters up what prove to be a male lion’s tail and back. Lion releases Mouse in a moment of bemused gentility and—when subsequently ensnared in a poacher’s rope trap—reaps the benefit thereof. Pinkney successfully blends anthropomorphism and realism, depicting Lion’s massive paws and Mouse’s pink inner ears along with expressions encompassing the quizzical, hapless and nearly smiling. He plays, too, with perspective, alternating foreground views of Mouse amid tall grasses with layered panoramas of the Serengeti plain and its multitudinous wildlife. Mouse, befitting her courage, is often depicted heroically large relative to Lion. Spreads in watercolor and pencil employ a palette of glowing amber, mouse-brown and blue-green. Artist-rendered display type ranges from a protracted “RRROAARRRRRRRRR” to nine petite squeaks from as many mouselings. If the five cubs in the back endpapers are a surprise, the mouse family of ten, perched on the ridge of father lion’s back, is sheer delight.

Unimpeachable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-01356-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009

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