Rewarding territory to explore not just for budding artists or writers, but for daydreamers in general.

THE BIRD KING

AN ARTIST'S NOTEBOOK

From a master of visual mystery, a beguiling gathering of sketches, doodles, portraits and written thoughts about art and creativity.

To set up his gallery, Tan quotes Paul Klee’s definition of “drawing” as “taking a line for a walk,” and then he ruminates on how his ideas and his efforts to express them act on one another. The images themselves range from tiny scribbles to finished pastels or storyboards. Most are figure studies, with an admixture of alien landscapes, mazelike warrens of rooms or sustained imaginative flights, such as a full spread of nautically themed characters labeled “language of the sea.” With rare exceptions, the figures are fantasy creatures sporting beaks, armor or other strange features—but all (even a series of quick studies of pre-Columbian pottery) not only look alive, but display the artist’s distinctive whimsy and innate poignancy. Many, though not all, of the images later appeared in his published works, and most come with discreet, often oblique identifiers: “The thing in the bathroom”; “heart-bell”; “Talk it over in the Bird Room.”

Rewarding territory to explore not just for budding artists or writers, but for daydreamers in general. (media and production notes) (Artist’s sampler/showcase. 6 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-46513-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

A wonderful retelling of the classic tale, handled with confidence and aplomb in Moses's first book. Here again is the lovelorn, greedy Ichabod; the dismissive Katrina; the loutish Brom Bones; and the headless horseman in all his pumpkin-wielding glory. Moses is true to the original while rendering the story appropriate for a younger audience: Everything from the gawky advances of Ichabod to the flirtatious Katrina, from Bones's pranksterish retaliations to the final electric encounter with the night rider is deftly, elementally, served forth. The sumptuous illustrations are perfectly wedded to the words, be they grand two-page spreads or the small painterly evocations lavishly decorating the text. Look closely: Lurking within the folksy artwork, with its overall primitive look, is an extraordinarily sophisticated technique enriched by an inspired use of color. A top-drawer adaptation, lovely and true. (Picture book/folklore. 6+)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-22687-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1995

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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