THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE

Grindley (Where Are My Chicks?, 2002, etc.) retells the classic tale with only a slight nod to the familiar Disney version and little of the special magic of Nancy Willard with Leo and Diane Dillon, who made the apprentice a young woman. In a spooky stone castle surrounded by padlocked gates lives a seldom-seen sorcerer and his young apprentice. The boy wants nothing more than to follow in the older man’s footsteps and he obediently does everything asked of him. But gradually, his patience wears thin while waiting for the master to teach him, so he takes matters into his own hands. The broom, the water, the multiplying brooms, the overflowing water, it’s all there. But the upshot is that this sorcerer realizes he should give the apprentice a chance. This Harry Potter for the toddler set will delight young readers with its abundance of full-bleed illustrations of things mysterious and magical. And unlike the Disney sorcerer, this wizard is the kindly grandfather type, with a full white beard and gentle green eyes. Taylor’s characters are filled with life, and their faces are wonderfully expressive, while his castle is a place the curious would love to explore. Just right for aspiring young magicians. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2726-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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ZATHURA

A trite, knock-off sequel to Jumanji (1981). The “Jumanji” box distracts Walter Budwing away from beating up on his little brother Danny, but it’s Danny who discovers the Zathura board inside—and in no time, Earth is far behind, a meteor has smashed through the roof, and a reptilian Zyborg pirate is crawling through the hole. Each throw of the dice brings an ominous new development, portrayed in grainy, penciled freeze frames featuring sculptured-looking figures in constricted, almost claustrophobic settings. The angles of view are, as always, wonderfully dramatic, but not only is much of the finer detail that contributed to Jumanji’s astonishing realism missing, the spectacular damage being done to the Budwings’ house as the game progresses is, by and large, only glimpsed around the picture edges. Naturally, having had his bacon repeatedly saved by his younger sibling’s quick thinking, once Walter falls through a black hole to a time preceding the game’s start, his attitude toward Danny undergoes a sudden, radical transformation. Van Allsburg’s imagination usually soars right along with his accomplished art—but here, both are just running in place. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-25396-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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THE KOREAN CINDERELLA

A retelling based on three of the ``half a dozen'' Korean Cinderella variants: ``Pear Blossom's'' stepmother calls her ``Little Pig,'' barely feeds her, and assigns her impossible tasks (filling a cracked jug), but the girl is helped by magical animals (a giant ox that weeds a rice paddy for her). A young magistrate, ``struck by her beauty,'' identifies her at a village festival by her lost sandal, and thus she makes an honorable marriage. The simple tale is retold in a vigorous, rather dramatic style. Heller, whose illustrations are based on her research in Korea, offers bold montages of figures and patterns in a striking array of intense colors. Her facial expressions are less expertly crafted than her realistic animals, sculptural draperies, and decorative traditional motifs, while the mix of styles leads to some cluttered effects; still, an attractive setting for a worthy variant. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: May 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-020432-X

Page Count: 48

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1993

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