Possibly of anthropological interest, but as a story for a wide audience, it’s no improvement on other versions.

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THE BLUE JACKAL

Scenes inspired by the traditional art of India’s Warli people illustrate a retold Panchatantra tale about a jackal who falls into a vat of dye.

Chased by village dogs, pipsqueak Juno the jackal blindly jumps into a vat of indigo. His bright new color so frightens the other animals in the wild that he proclaims himself king. But when he hears his banished jackal clan howling at the moon, he joins in—thus betraying his true nature to the other creatures, who angrily drive him away. Viswanath embellishes more-traditional versions both with added details and by casting the tale into lumbering verse: “Juno was terribly puny and lean, / and the bigger jackals were really quite mean. / They laughed at him cruelly for being so skinny, / calling him names, like sissy and ninny.” (She also follows the lead of most modern renditions by allowing the imposter to survive rather than being killed by his erstwhile subjects.) Drawn in white on dark, monochrome backgrounds, the illustrations are large-scale scenes with freely placed figures of animals and foliage that are small and often stylized beyond easy recognition. They are striking, but the visual narrative they convey is not easy for readers from outside the culture to parse.

Possibly of anthropological interest, but as a story for a wide audience, it’s no improvement on other versions. (afterword) (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8028-5466-7

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Eerdmans

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education.

IF I BUILT A SCHOOL

A young visionary describes his ideal school: “Perfectly planned and impeccably clean. / On a scale, 1 to 10, it’s more like 15!”

In keeping with the self-indulgently fanciful lines of If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012), young Jack outlines in Seussian rhyme a shiny, bright, futuristic facility in which students are swept to open-roofed classes in clear tubes, there are no tests but lots of field trips, and art, music, and science are afterthoughts next to the huge and awesome gym, playground, and lunchroom. A robot and lots of cute puppies (including one in a wheeled cart) greet students at the door, robotically made-to-order lunches range from “PB & jelly to squid, lightly seared,” and the library’s books are all animated popups rather than the “everyday regular” sorts. There are no guards to be seen in the spacious hallways—hardly any adults at all, come to that—and the sparse coed student body features light- and dark-skinned figures in roughly equal numbers, a few with Asian features, and one in a wheelchair. Aside from the lack of restrooms, it seems an idyllic environment—at least for dog-loving children who prefer sports and play over quieter pursuits.

An all-day sugar rush, putting the “fun” back into, er, education. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55291-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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