LAPIN PLAYS POSSUM

TRICKSTER TALES FROM THE LOUISIANA BAYOU

Small of stature but brimming with brains, the trickster rabbit Lapin gets in and out of trouble faster than a Louisiana governor. Doucet (Why Lapin’s Ears Are Too Long, 1997, etc.) is known for her meticulous researching of these stories in her adopted homeland in Cajun Country, and her retelling leaves nothing to be desired. She respects the tenor and tone of the real Cajun culture. They are as full of mischievous fun and as spicy as a crawfish boil at a Fais-Do-Do. The three stories included are real Cajun derivatives of the original West African stories. They involve the rivalry between Compère Lapin and the somewhat shortsighted Compère Bouki. The bigger Bouki, it seems, comes out on the short end every time, as lazy Lapin cons him for half his crops and most of his rum cake, his mule and wagon, and the water from his well. Bouki almost turns the tables in the variation of the classic tar baby story, but Lapin returns to his roots—or rather briars—to win in the end. Southern prodigal son Cook’s illustrations cast the right shade, or rather lack of it. His energetic illustrations use a steamy bright golden cast, which suggests the summer in Cajun country better than a bite of capsicum. The text and many paintings are blended throughout the brilliant design, accentuating the non-stop banter between the furry antagonists. This seamless blending of ambiance and language play makes it a must-have for storytellers and storylovers alike, and leaves us wondering what kind of conversations she is having with Lapin as he lollygags on her writing desk. (glossary) (Folklore. 6-12)

Pub Date: May 7, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-34328-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2002

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With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded.

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THE ONE AND ONLY BOB

Tiny, sassy Bob the dog, friend of The One and Only Ivan (2012), returns to tell his tale.

Wisecracking Bob, who is a little bit Chihuahua among other things, now lives with his girl, Julia, and her parents. Happily, her father works at Wildworld Zoological Park and Sanctuary, the zoo where Bob’s two best friends, Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, live, so Bob gets to visit and catch up with them regularly. Due to an early betrayal, Bob doesn’t trust humans (most humans are good only for their thumbs); he fears he’s going soft living with Julia, and he’s certain he is a Bad Dog—as in “not a good representative of my species.” On a visit to the zoo with a storm threatening, Bob accidentally falls into the gorilla enclosure just as a tornado strikes. So that’s what it’s like to fly. In the storm’s aftermath, Bob proves to everyone (and finally himself) that there is a big heart in that tiny chest…and a brave one too. With this companion, Applegate picks up where her Newbery Medal winner left off, and fans will be overjoyed to ride along in the head of lovable, self-deprecating Bob on his storm-tossed adventure. His wry doggy observations and attitude are pitch perfect (augmented by the canine glossary and Castelao’s picture dictionary of dog postures found in the frontmatter). Gorilla Ivan described Julia as having straight, black hair in the previous title, and Castelao's illustrations in that volume showed her as pale-skinned. (Finished art not available for review.)

With Ivan’s movie out this year from Disney, expect great interest—it will be richly rewarded. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299131-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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  • Newbery Honor Book

BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE

A 10-year old girl learns to adjust to a strange town, makes some fascinating friends, and fills the empty space in her heart thanks to a big old stray dog in this lyrical, moving, and enchanting book by a fresh new voice. India Opal’s mama left when she was only three, and her father, “the preacher,” is absorbed in his own loss and in the work of his new ministry at the Open-Arms Baptist Church of Naomi [Florida]. Enter Winn-Dixie, a dog who “looked like a big piece of old brown carpet that had been left out in the rain.” But, this dog had a grin “so big that it made him sneeze.” And, as Opal says, “It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with a dog who has a good sense of humor.” Because of Winn-Dixie, Opal meets Miss Franny Block, an elderly lady whose papa built her a library of her own when she was just a little girl and she’s been the librarian ever since. Then, there’s nearly blind Gloria Dump, who hangs the empty bottle wreckage of her past from the mistake tree in her back yard. And, Otis, oh yes, Otis, whose music charms the gerbils, rabbits, snakes and lizards he’s let out of their cages in the pet store. Brush strokes of magical realism elevate this beyond a simple story of friendship to a well-crafted tale of community and fellowship, of sweetness, sorrow and hope. And, it’s funny, too. A real gem. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0776-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2000

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