An outstanding, seamless combination of evocative art, poetic writing and ingeniously designed digital enhancements that...



A centenarian who has just lost everything—nearly everything—reflects on his childhood and his chief regret in a poignant but wonder-filled memoir.

Seeing his mansion and possessions burned to ashes, Ari Allistair Arx-Sorenson offers "the ashes of my memory." There are many, starting with a childhood rich in wonders: an encounter with a wolf who becomes a lifelong companion, uproarious parties with animal dinner guests and a portrait painted by his mother that never dries because she changes it every day as he grows. But then he falls in love with a woman from the sky and loses her by allowing his love to become obsession. Appearing phrase by phrase in English or French versions when read by a narrator (who sounds properly introspective, if too young) but in full in silent mode, Ari's monologue is printed in an angular typeface that complements Fauché's shadowy, equally stylized cartoon illustrations. Though the art tends to gather at the edges on most screens, touching figures and smaller details activates gestures, sounds, slow zooms or entire changes of view, small, scurrying creatures and other unpredictable effects that never fail to add drama or delight to each scene. Multiple background tracks of flowing orchestral music underscore the reflective tone. "I pulled from the fire everything that I wanted to keep," Ari concludes. "I ask you to believe me."

An outstanding, seamless combination of evocative art, poetic writing and ingeniously designed digital enhancements that mature audiences in particular (but not exclusively) will find profoundly moving. (thumbnail index) (iPad picture-book app. 8-10, adult)

Pub Date: June 9, 2012


Page Count: -

Publisher: La Souris Qui Raconte

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action.


The best birthday present is a magical train full of talking animals—and a new job.

On Kate’s 11th birthday, she’s surprised by the arrival of rich Uncle Herbert. Uncle Herbert bears a gift: a train. Not a toy train, a 102.36-ton steam engine, with cars that come later. When Kate and her brother, Tom, both white, play in the cab of the Silver Arrow, the train starts up, zooming to a platform packed with animals holding tickets. Thus begins Kate and Tom’s hard work: They learn to conduct the train and feed the fire box, instructed by the Silver Arrow, which speaks via printed paper tape. The Silver Arrow is a glorious playground: The library car is chockablock with books while the candy car is brimful of gobstoppers and gummy bears. But amid the excitement of whistle-blowing and train conducting, Kate and Tom learn quiet messages from their animal friends. Some species, like gray squirrels and starlings, are “invaders.” The too-thin polar bear’s train platform has melted, leaving it almost drowned. Their new calling is more than just feeding the coal box—they need to find a new balance in a damaged world. “Feeling guilty doesn’t help anything,” the mamba tells them. Humans have survived so effectively they’ve taken over the world; now, he says, “you just have to take care of it.” (Illustrations not seen.)

Both cozy and inspiring, this eco-fable conveys both grim truths and a defiant call to action. (Fantasy. 8-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-53953-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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From the Lemonade War series , Vol. 1

Told from the point of view of two warring siblings, this could have been an engaging first chapter book. Unfortunately, the length makes it less likely to appeal to the intended audience. Jessie and Evan are usually good friends as well as sister and brother. But the news that bright Jessie will be skipping a grade to join Evan’s fourth-grade class creates tension. Evan believes himself to be less than clever; Jessie’s emotional maturity doesn’t quite measure up to her intelligence. Rivalry and misunderstandings grow as the two compete to earn the most money in the waning days of summer. The plot rolls along smoothly and readers will be able to both follow the action and feel superior to both main characters as their motivations and misconceptions are clearly displayed. Indeed, a bit more subtlety in characterization might have strengthened the book’s appeal. The final resolution is not entirely believable, but the emphasis on cooperation and understanding is clear. Earnest and potentially successful, but just misses the mark. (Fiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-618-75043-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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