Readers will come away with a little more knowledge about tiled patterns, if not shoemaking, but the visual and fictional...




Two children work out a patterning problem in a tale that is more “math”—actually geometry—than “adventure.”

The tale is set in Renaissance Italy and illustrated with sweetly idyllic period scenes done in pale, low-contrast watercolors. The largely incidental plot hands Enzo, inept son of a magician, and his friend Aida, the shoemaker's little sister, a poser: It seems that the town’s 12 princesses need new dancing shoes, and the penny-pinching castle housekeeper orders that they be made from a single piece of leather. The shoemaker Tessel insists it can’t be done—but by disassembling one kind of shoe, trimming the pieces into geometric shapes and rearranging them, the young folk somehow manage a pattern that fits a dozen shoes (of a different kind, but never mind) onto the leather exactly. “I guess we’ll have to call you a grande matematico,” concludes Aida admiringly. The actual template is neither depicted nor described, and the simple repeated pattern imprinted on the leather in O’Neill’s picture bears no obvious relationship to the finished shoes. Instead, in closing notes the author recapitulates her explanation of how tessellations are constructed and invites young viewers to re-examine the illustrations for tile floor patterns and other examples.

Readers will come away with a little more knowledge about tiled patterns, if not shoemaking, but the visual and fictional wrapping does more to obscure the concept than illuminate it. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-354-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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A close encounter of the best kind.


Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn’t as lifeless as it looks.

While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare’s wordless but cinematic scenes…as do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayon—gray, of course—left in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.

A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4253-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests.


From the The Kingdom of Wrenly series , Vol. 1

A lonely prince gains a friend for a quest to find a missing jewel.

Prince Lucas of Wrenly has everything a boy could possibly want—except a friend. His father has forbidden him to play with the village children for reasons of propriety. Adventure-seeking Lucas acquires peasant clothes to masquerade as a commoner and make friends, but he is caught out. His mother, the queen, persuades the king to allow him one friend: Clara, the daughter of her personal dressmaker. When the queen’s prized emerald pendant goes missing, Lucas and Clara set off to find it. They follow the jewel as it changes hands, interviewing each temporary owner. Their adventure cleverly introduces the series’ world and peoples, taking the children to the fairy island of Primlox, the trolls’ home of Burth, the wizard island of Hobsgrove and finally Mermaid’s Cove. By befriending the mermaids, Lucas and Clara finally recover the jewel. In thanks, the king gives Clara a horse of her own so that she may ride with Lucas on their future adventures. The third-person narration is generally unobtrusive, allowing the characters to take center stage. The charming, medieval-flavored illustrations set the fairy-tale scene and take up enough page space that new and reluctant readers won’t be overwhelmed by text.

 A gentle adventure that sets the stage for future quests. (Fantasy. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9691-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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