A sweet animal tale effectively conveys a basic but important message.


A debut picture book, the first installment of a series, features an adventurous mouse.

In Cash’s morality tale, Squeaky is a skilled scavenger who refuses to share his bounty with a stinky fellow mouse who comes begging at his door. That evening, when Squeaky forages, food is scarce, but he is drawn to his favorite smell—cheese. Most readers will likely anticipate what Squeaky does not: the tantalizing tidbit is the bait for a trap. In deference to young readers, activating the device produces a net, not a neck-breaking snap! Squeaky is rescued by the stinky mouse, whom he feels obligated to invite to his home for a meal. First the guest—his name is now revealed to be Whiskers—bathes and amazingly loses his stench. When asked, Whiskers reveals that his mother taught him to help when he could, because someday he might need aid, too. The illustrations by Smith—the author’s English teacher brother—are as uncomplicated and straightforward as the text, with the drab mouse world enlivened by the bright colors of the kitchen of the “People.” Each drawing, uniformly centered at the top of the page with text beneath, sports a bright blue border. Rather than boring, the homogeny and simplicity of the text and art should be comforting to the target audience (ages 4 to 7). While the story’s point is of the “do unto others” variety, a worthy anti-discriminatory theme also emerges.

A sweet animal tale effectively conveys a basic but important message.

Pub Date: July 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63183-070-9

Page Count: 25

Publisher: Mountain Arbor Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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