A well-crafted, straightforward collection of the myths everyone needs to know.

GREEK MYTHS

STORIES OF SUN, STONE AND SEA

The fabled world of ancient Greece comes alive through these 10 myths that feature some of the most powerful gods, fearless heroes and amazing animals in literature.

“The Creation” introduces Titans Kronos and Rhea, who spawned the twelve Olympians, led by Zeus, god of the sky, and the collection plunges along from there. Clayton’s deft storytelling transitions readers easily from story to story, grounding them in a setting of mountainous islands dominated by the hot sun and cool blue sea. Readers meet Pandora, created at Zeus’ behest as a tragically curious beauty bearing gifts for the giant Epimetheus. The competition for the city of Athens between Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Poseidon, god of the sea, is seen as a struggle decided by a democratic vote. The grotesqueness of Medusa is countered by the human bravery of Perseus; the remorse of King Midas redeems him from his greed. The enchanting flying horse, Pegasus, aids Bellerophon in his conquest of the three-headed, fire-breathing chimera. Arachne’s transformation following her challenge of Athena brings the collection to a close. Each adventure or quest is followed by a very brief fact about Greece. Detailed and luminous, often diminutive watercolors and collage art illuminate each story’s theme.

A well-crafted, straightforward collection of the myths everyone needs to know. (map, notes, index of gods and heroes, sources) (Mythology. 7-9)

Pub Date: July 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-84780-227-9

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A patchy production, visually absorbing at its best but hampered by a banal and unsystematic text.

WALK THIS WILD WORLD

Wild animals by the score pose in plain sight or hide beneath die-cut flaps in 12 natural habitats around the world.

Designed as a companion for Jenny Broom’s city tour Walk This World, illustrated by Lotta Nieminen (2013), Brewster’s gallery of broad land- and seascapes is free of human figures but teems with distinctive flora and fauna. His figures are occasionally stylized, but he depicts them with reasonable accuracy and shows them in natural, though seldom active poses. Baker’s narrative is likewise a bit stodgy. She gives each locale a rhyming overview, muffing the final one slightly: “The shifting sands of the Australian desert / shimmer in the searing heat / and hidden far beneath the dunes / nocturnal creatures safely sleep.” In addition, she offers perfunctory observations about one to four animals (or, rarely, plants) that are revealed by peeling up the small rectangular flaps on each free page: “The rare Asian arowana or ‘dragon fish’ swims in the deep pools”; “The ibis uses its long curved bill to search for food”; etc. A map at the end retraces the overall route and provides a general sense of each scene’s location. Even though some creatures are very small or too dimly lit to make out, and many others are unidentified, at least the art will give animal lovers plenty to pore over.

A patchy production, visually absorbing at its best but hampered by a banal and unsystematic text. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78370-541-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

INFINITE COUNTRY

A 15-year-old girl in Colombia, doing time in a remote detention center, orchestrates a jail break and tries to get home.

"People say drugs and alcohol are the greatest and most persuasive narcotics—the elements most likely to ruin a life. They're wrong. It's love." As the U.S. recovers from the repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, from the misery of separations on the border, from both the idea and the reality of a wall around the United States, Engel's vital story of a divided Colombian family is a book we need to read. Weaving Andean myth and natural symbolism into her narrative—condors signify mating for life, jaguars revenge; the embattled Colombians are "a singed species of birds without feathers who can still fly"; children born in one country and raised in another are "repotted flowers, creatures forced to live in the wrong habitat"—she follows Talia, the youngest child, on a complex journey. Having committed a violent crime not long before she was scheduled to leave her father in Bogotá to join her mother and siblings in New Jersey, she winds up in a horrible Catholic juvie from which she must escape in order to make her plane. Hence the book's wonderful first sentence: "It was her idea to tie up the nun." Talia's cross-country journey is interwoven with the story of her parents' early romance, their migration to the United States, her father's deportation, her grandmother's death, the struggle to reunite. In the latter third of the book, surprising narrative shifts are made to include the voices of Talia's siblings, raised in the U.S. This provides interesting new perspectives, but it is a little awkward to break the fourth wall so late in the book. Attention, TV and movie people: This story is made for the screen.

The rare immigrant chronicle that is as long on hope as it is on heartbreak.

Pub Date: yesterday

ISBN: 978-1-982159-46-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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SHARK SWIMATHON

Two-digit subtraction is the subject of this MathStart picture book, which beats its one-note song slowly and relentlessly. Murphy builds this story, the latest in his series of math fundamentals, around a group of young shark swimmers who have a chance to attend swim camp if they can complete 75 laps among themselves over a week’s time. The coach has set up an easel by the pool, tallying their laps and then subtracting them from the running total on the easel. And that, quite simply, is how far Murphy takes the narrative, if such flimsy material can be called a story. There is nothing here to entice any child who is anxious, uninterested, or confused about math to get involved with either the subtraction or the story angle of the book. Murphy might just as well have presented a handful of subtraction problems on each page and forgotten all about the vapid story line, because the only kids who will find interest in these pages are those who really love mathematics, and there isn’t enough here for them to chew on to any satisfaction. (Picture book. 7-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2001

ISBN: 0-06-028030-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2000

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