In their illustrated book of children’s poetry, Childers and Buck present new takes on old parables, set to rhyme.

Using various rhyme schemes, Childers retools a selection of aged fables, sometimes hewing close to the original and other times taking his own tack. For instance, "The Emperor’s New Clothes," “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Three Pigs” are presented as direct descendants of the old chestnuts, while the story of Icarus is a more distant relative (deploying an eagle and a tortoise). Whichever approach taken, Childers’ work is clever and (often darkly) comedic. Couplets predominate—“‘Whoa!’ said Frog, ‘Ya think I’m daft? / To use my body for a raft, / and haul a cargo such as you, / one quick stick could kill us two!’”—but Childers is not bound to the form when two, three, five or more lines are needed. He also implements internal rhyme to catch the ear (“Sun said, ‘Just because you topple trees, / and freeze lost Bees below their knees, / does not make you a bloomin’ czar’”) and varies the tempo and highlights the story’s turn. The writing is brisk, never forced or overpacked, and, best of all, it’s never scolding; these may be words to the wise, important lessons that readers should always keep in the back of their minds—“many of these seemingly capricious parables contained messages, valuable recipes for surviving in society and the physical world,” says Childers in his foreword—but they are administered with a spoonful of honey rather than fish oil. Though the tales are relatively straightforward, Childers has snuck in a teaser—“There was a Tasmanian Devil, / who, when spinning, made everything level. / It’s from ambition, I fear, / he spun up his own ear, / and now that / poor Devil / is level / !”—but for each tale Childers has provided, at the end, a short rhyme that interprets the lesson in bell-clear terms. Each of these single-page tales is accompanied by a piece of Buck’s artwork—snappy color illustrations that get right to the essence of things. A jaunty lot of advice, sound as ever and told with good cheer.


Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-1460933756

Page Count: 80

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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A festive invitation to creative liberation.


A pleasingly tactile exploration of the possibilities inherent in mistakes.

"A torn piece of paper... / is just the beginning!" Spills, folded paper, drips of paint, smudges and smears—they "all can make magic appear." An increasingly complex series of scenarios celebrates random accidents, encouraging artistic experimentation rather than discouragement. The folded-over paper can be a penguin's head; a torn piece of newsprint can turn into a smiling dog with a little application of paint; a hot-chocolate stain can become a bog for a frog. Thanks to a telescoping pop-up, a hole is filled with nearly limitless possibilities. The interactive elements work beautifully with the photo-collaged "mistakes," never overwhelming the intent with showiness. Saltzberg's trademark cartoon animals provide a sweetly childlike counterpoint to the artful scribbles and smears of gloppy paint.

A festive invitation to creative liberation. (Pop-up. 4-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7611-5728-1

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Workman

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2010

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From the artist who created last year's shoutingly vivid Growing Vegetable Soup, a companion volume about raising a flower garden. "Mom and I" plant bulbs (even rhizomes), choose seeds, buy seedlings, and altogether grow about 20 species. Unlike the vegetables, whose juxtaposed colors were almost painfully bright, the flowers make a splendidly gaudy array, first taken together and then interestingly grouped by color—the pages vary in size here so that colored strips down the right-hand side combine to make a broad rainbow. Bold, stylish, and indubitably inspired by real flowers, there is still (as with its predecessor) a link missing between these illustrations with their large, solid areas of color and the real experience of a garden. The stylized forms are almost more abstractions than representations (and why is the daisy yellow?). There is also little sense of the relative times for growing and blooming—everything seems to come almost at once. Perhaps the trouble is that Ehlert has captured all the color of the garden, but not its subtle gradations or the light, the space, the air, and the continual movement and change.

Pub Date: March 21, 1988

ISBN: 0152063048

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1988

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