FISHING IN THE AIR

A father shows his son how to “catch” something far better than fish in Newbery-winner Creech’s (The Wanderer, p. 379, etc.) first picture book. The young narrator recalls an outing—a journey, as his father promises, to a secret place that turns out to be a riverbank where bubbles of breeze, slices of sun, and vivid memories of another boy and another time hover, waiting to be pulled in on the child’s hookless fish line. With dancing swirls and dabs of color, bodies arching across spreads as gracefully as dolphins, and images of past and present flowing together, Raschka (Ring! Yo?, 306, etc.) exuberantly echoes and amplifies the intensity of the shared experience. At the father’s suggestions, streetlights become tiny moons; trees in a row transform into soldiers; and recollections of a boyhood home, other fields, and another father swim into view. Creech’s prose is rich in flowing rhythms, tinged with sentiment, and no less replete with evocative images than the pictures. “ ‘Oh,’ my father said again. / ‘Where is that father / and that boy?’ / I reeled in my line. / ‘Right here,’ I said, / and he turned to look at me, / as I cast my line again / so high, so far.” A rare episode, with layers of meaning for readers of several generations. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 2000

ISBN: 0-06-028111-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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NIGHT OF THE VEGGIE MONSTER

McClements takes a distinctly parental point of view in portraying a young veggie-hater’s nightly dinner-table performance. “Time for another fun-filled hour,” observes Dad grimly, setting down a plate holding three seemingly boulder-sized peas in front of the hyper-dramatic lad who narrates. One touch of pea to tongue is all it takes to elicit writhing fingers (“Ahh . . . I knew it would start with the fingers”), curling toes (“That’s a new one!”) and twitches that are violent enough to knock over the chair as the child is transformed into . . . “a veggie monster!” Peas choked down at last, the crisis ends—but, of course, there’s always tomorrow’s broccoli. Created with a mix of clipped photo-bits of food and utensils and figures cut from brown paper, the illustrations have a simple look that goes with the pared-down text, the perspectives and dramatic effect reminiscent of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books, but it doesn’t really capture the drama like Lauren Child’s I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (2000). Still, it may help similarly picky children, and their caregivers, get over taking themselves too seriously. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59990-061-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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MAMA ELIZABETI

Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but this sweet sequel to the wonderful, award-winning Elizabeti’s Doll (1998) will hit a chord in any child who has had to care for a younger sibling. Mama has a new baby, Flora, so Elizabeti must leave her stone doll Eva in a corner and watch little Obedi. Surely taking care of Eva has prepared her for a day with Obedi. But what a pest he is, spilling rice she has just cleaned, wriggling so much on her back that she can’t balance the water jug on her head, and toddling away unnoticed to play hide-and-seek. How did Mama ever get anything done? Hale again gives the Tanzanian village in which this is set a dusty, open spareness, gracefully posing tall, brightly clad adults, capturing Elizabeti’s love and worry (never anger) with clearly drawn, unexaggerated gestures and expressions. Though too young to talk, Obedi comes across as an individual, too, with content, mischief, sadness, and relief chasing each other across his mobile features. After supper, as Mama cradles Flora, Elizabeti rocks Obedi to sleep in her arms—a peaceful end to a trying, important day in her life. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-58430-002-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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