THE LION AND THE UNICORN

From Hughes (Enchantment in the Garden, 1997, etc.), a WWII story with big ambitions—many of them realized’set out in the pages of an unusually long picture book. Lenny Levi lives in London with his mother during the Blitz, cherishing the letters from his father at the front, and the medal of the lion and the unicorn his father gave him. When Lenny is evacuated to the country, he finds himself at a huge old manor with three little girls, the lady of the house, and a few servants. He is lonely, teased at school and at home for not eating bacon and for bedwetting, but makes a friend of the young man with one leg he meets in the secret garden on the estate. The garden, thick with roses, also holds a beautiful statue of a unicorn like the one on his medal. As Lenny’s loneliness and fear spiral out of control, a night vision of the unicorn brings him back; his mother comes to take them both to his aunt in Wales, where his father will join them. The storyline, while straightforward, hints at difficult subjects—religious differences, amputees, separation, family disruptions, the terror of bombing, and more—which are then given only cursory treatment. The pictures are splendid: luminous, full-bodied watercolors that capture the horror of London burning, the glory of the countryside, and mists of dreams. It may be difficult for this to find its audience, but children too young for Michelle Magorian’s Good Night, Mr. Tom (1986) might be captured. (Picture book. 8-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7894-2555-6

Page Count: 60

Publisher: DK Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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NO MATTER WHAT

Small, a very little fox, needs some reassurance from Large in the unconditional love department. If he is grim and grumpy, will he still be loved? “ ‘Oh, Small,’ said Large, ‘grumpy or not, I’ll always love you, no matter what.’ “ So it goes, in a gentle rhyme, as Large parries any number of questions that for Small are very telling. What if he were to turn into a young bear, or squishy bug, or alligator? Would a mother want to hug and hold these fearsome animals? Yes, yes, answers Large. “But does love wear out? Does it break or bend? Can you fix it or patch it? Does it mend?” There is comfort in Gliori’s pages, but it is a result of repetition and not the imagery; this is a quick fix, not an enduring one, but it eases Small’s fears and may well do the same for children. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-15-202061-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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