BIG DAY ON THE RIVER

Willie starts out at dawn for a solo raft ride on the Wallawatchee River. She has barely lowered herself on to the tiny craft when a parade of relatives begins. Grandmas, grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins all bring her items they think she will need on her short trip. From a lumpy sack of apples to a camp stove complete with a four-pound pot of beans, each helpful item takes up more space and weighs down the raft until Cousin Clyde himself hops on and sinks everything into the Wallawatchee. Once she’s afloat again, Willie thanks everyone but tells them all she needs from them is their hugs, their kisses, and their best wishes. Only then is she able to set out with her two silent duck buddies and her backpack for her planned day. Wilson (George Hogglesberry: Grade School Alien, 2002, etc.) tells Willie’s story with breezy prose dotted and peppered with mountain slang and silly similes. Gramma Em’s watermelon is “heavier than a full-grown raccoon in a washtub” and Cousin Clyde jumps through the air “like a cow riding a cannonball.” Cecil’s (Ugly Princess and the Wise Fool, not reviewed, etc.) sunny, acrylic gouache illustrations feature a happy, clean, country family, all but Willie sharing the same oversized nose. The two work well together. A good tale of a spunky girl for independent or group reading. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8050-6787-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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PINK AND SAY

A white youth from Ohio, Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say), and a black youth from Georgia, Pinkus Aylee (Pink), meet as young soldiers with the Union army. Pink finds Say wounded in the leg after a battle and brings him home with him. Pink's mother, Moe Moe Bay, cares for the boys while Say recuperates, feeding and comforting them and banishing the war for a time. Whereas Pink is eager to go back and fight against "the sickness" that is slavery, Say is afraid to return to his unit. But when he sees Moe Moe Bay die at the hands of marauders, he understands the need to return. Pink and Say are captured by Confederate soldiers and brought to the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Say is released months later, ill and undernourished, but Pink is never released, and Polacco reports that he was hanged that very first day because he was black. Polacco (Babushka Baba Yaga, 1993, etc; My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, above) tells this story, which was passed down for generations in her family (Say was her great-great-grandfather), carefully and without melodrama so that it speaks for itself. The stunning illustrations — reminiscent of the German expressionist Egon Shiele in their use of color and form — are completely heartbreaking. A spectacular achievement. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22671-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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