SOPHIA, THE ALCHEMIST’S DOG

Sophia’s master is alchemist to the King, who gives him a yearly allowance to turn lead into gold, something the little brown dog’s master has yet to accomplish. When the King announces he’s coming to visit, the alchemist has two weeks to produce gold. Driven by bad dreams, he sketches them in his book, hoping to transform them into a magic formula. When Sophia accidentally tracks ink across his notations, her master desperately tries to find an answer in them but to no avail. Sophia takes things into her paws and with the help of an angel and an imp, she combines things from the smells on the paper and voilà, gold! The King arrives and when the alchemist has no gold to show him, Sophia is ready to roll out her gold lump when the King finds treasure of a different sort—in the alchemist’s sketches. Now dubbed painter to the King, he creates gold by mixing pigments with egg yolks for paint. Jackson’s (Escape South, not reviewed, etc.) illustrations of acrylic, pen and ink, and colored pencil provide historical context for the story. The text appears on parchment images that are set against sketches and drawings, adding dimension and creating a visual multi-layered effect that is as enchanting as the story. A somewhat longer text and a slightly formal style make this perfect for reading or telling aloud, and the art will captivate its audience as well. Truly magical. (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84279-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS

Fact and fiction dovetail neatly in this tale of a wonderfully resolute child who finds a memorable way to convince her father that the newly-finished Brooklyn Bridge is safe to cross. Having watched the great bridge going up for most of her young life, Hannah is eager to walk it, but despite repeated, fact-laced appeals to reason (and Hannah is a positive fount of information about its materials and design), her father won’t be moved: “No little girl of mine will cross that metal monster!” Hannah finally hatches a far-fetched plan to convince him once and for all; can she persuade the renowned P.T. Barnum to march his corps of elephants across? She can, and does (actually, he was already planning to do it). Pham places Hannah, radiating sturdy confidence, within sepia-toned, exactly rendered period scenes that capture both the grandeur of the bridge in its various stages of construction, and the range of expressions on the faces of onlookers during its opening ceremonies and after. Readers will applaud Hannah’s polite persistence. (afterword, resources) (Picture book. 7-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-689-87011-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2004

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A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective.

THE LITTLEST VOYAGEUR

Stowing away with French Canadian fur traders in 1792, a loquacious red squirrel embarks on a life-changing adventure.

Each spring, Jean Pierre Petit Le Rouge, a squirrel with wanderlust, watches brave, strong voyageurs depart in canoes from Montreal and return the following autumn. Determined to be a voyageur, Le Rouge hides in a canoe paddled by eight stout voyageurs, part of a brigade of five. Soon his incessant chattering distracts the voyageurs, who become separated from the rest of the brigade, but, after ascending the highest tree, he points the crew back on course. More than once, pesky Le Rouge barely escapes becoming squirrel ragout. He’s just beginning to feel like a real voyageur when they reach the trading post on Lake Superior, where he discovers the voyageurs exchanging their cargo for animal skins to return to Montreal. Heartsick, Le Rouge decides he cannot be a voyageur if it involves trading animal skins, unless he can change things. Le Rouge relates his story with drama and flair, presenting a colorful prism through which to view the daily life of a voyageur. Peppered with historical facts and (italicized) French phrases and names, this exciting, well-documented tale (with a contemporary animal-rights subtext) proves educational and entertaining. Realistic pencil drawings highlight Le Rouge’s memorable journey.

A rousing introduction to the life of a voyageur told from a unique perspective. (map, pronunciation guide, historical and biological notes, recipe, further reading) (Historical fantasy. 7-10)

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4247-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Margaret Ferguson/Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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