In an echo of The Old Woman and Her Pig, an African village market is the scene of several purchases and subsequent rounds of barter initiated by a young girl and her friend. Luzolo has a five-franc coin to spend on market day. Her father cautions her not to buy the first thing she sees: “Look around, choose what you really want, and then bargain for a fair price.” Her mother adds, “no one gets something for nothing on market day.” Luzolo and her friend, Kiese share what they each purchase and then hear that a monkey is for sale, obviously a disturbing discovery. They set off to trade throughout the market, until they can get the monkey away from its captor. Eventually, the beans and rice they barter for their bracelets and nail polish trade for a very nice basket, that trades for four tin cups that trade for embroidery, and that, finally, for the water pot the monkey seller wants. The girls take the monkey and head for the jungle, where they immediately release him and admonish, “Next time, stay away from Mama Lusufu!” The story ends, “But the monkey didn’t listen.” The illustrations—etched and hand-painted Chine collé on mulberry paper—do little to extend the text, lacking the vibrancy and vitality of an African market filled with foods, fabrics, and goods. There’s no hint of what the characters have in mind to do once they obtain the monkey, other than that sense of unhappiness when they hear it’s in captivity, so that comes as a nice surprise. The author does relate the interconnection within a community and the ripples created by trading what one has for what one wants. The observant young reader will detect and enjoy the circular story of trading among the villagers and the inevitable return of the monkey. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-35017-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some...


With a little help from his audience, a young storyteller gets over a solid case of writer’s block in this engaging debut.

Despite the (sometimes creatively spelled) examples produced by all his classmates and the teacher’s assertion that “Stories are everywhere!” Ralph can’t get past putting his name at the top of his paper. One day, lying under the desk in despair, he remembers finding an inchworm in the park. That’s all he has, though, until his classmates’ questions—“Did it feel squishy?” “Did your mom let you keep it?” “Did you name it?”—open the floodgates for a rousing yarn featuring an interloping toddler, a broad comic turn and a dramatic rescue. Hanlon illustrates the episode with childlike scenes done in transparent colors, featuring friendly-looking children with big smiles and widely spaced button eyes. The narrative text is printed in standard type, but the children’s dialogue is rendered in hand-lettered printing within speech balloons. The episode is enhanced with a page of elementary writing tips and the tantalizing titles of his many subsequent stories (“When I Ate Too Much Spaghetti,” “The Scariest Hamster,” “When the Librarian Yelled Really Loud at Me,” etc.) on the back endpapers.

An engaging mix of gentle behavior modeling and inventive story ideas that may well provide just the push needed to get some budding young writers off and running. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2012

ISBN: 978-0761461807

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Amazon Children's Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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