This folktale has been a favorite for many storytellers and Crum, a storyteller herself, provides a smooth and lively retelling that will send shivers down the listener’s spine. Old Tar Pockets is a truly greedy man who steals warm, soft tar from a neighbor’s bucket and sticks it in his pocket as it is the only thing he has to carry it back home. He also digs up “sweet taters” for supper—but in the process he finds a big, hairy toe. He sticks the toe in the same pocket as the tar, and it sticks tight. That night, he hears a voice crying, “WHO TOOK MY HAIRY TOE?” so he crawls under the quilt to escape, but the voice keeps asking the question. At last, he answers, begging the beast to take it, but, since it is stuck in his pocket, the beast carries Old Tar Pockets away. The tale ends with the folk saying, “ ‘Pay that no nevermind! It’s just Old Tar Pockets getting his due.’ I say, ‘Just as long as what’s in your pocket is yours . . . I wouldn’t worry about it.’ ” Illustrations begin with bright and sunny rural landscapes, but soon become somber, dark, and scary as the telling gets progressively scarier. The beast is suitably ghostly until the last two spreads, where he is depicted as huge and furry as he carts Tar Pockets off. An author’s note cites sources for the tale and the variants, which include the British “Teeny Tiny Bone” and the Midwestern “Tailipoo.” (Folktale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8075-5972-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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Only for dedicated fans of the series.


From the How to Catch… series

When a kid gets the part of the ninja master in the school play, it finally seems to be the right time to tackle the closet monster.

“I spot my monster right away. / He’s practicing his ROAR. / He almost scares me half to death, / but I won’t be scared anymore!” The monster is a large, fluffy poison-green beast with blue hands and feet and face and a fluffy blue-and-green–striped tail. The kid employs a “bag of tricks” to try to catch the monster: in it are a giant wind-up shark, two cans of silly string, and an elaborate cage-and-robot trap. This last works, but with an unexpected result: the monster looks sad. Turns out he was only scaring the boy to wake him up so they could be friends. The monster greets the boy in the usual monster way: he “rips a massive FART!!” that smells like strawberries and lime, and then they go to the monster’s house to meet his parents and play. The final two spreads show the duo getting ready for bed, which is a rather anticlimactic end to what has otherwise been a rambunctious tale. Elkerton’s bright illustrations have a TV-cartoon aesthetic, and his playful beast is never scary. The narrator is depicted with black eyes and hair and pale skin. Wallace’s limping verses are uninspired at best, and the scansion and meter are frequently off.

Only for dedicated fans of the series. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-4894-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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From the Caldecott Medal—winning team behind Smoky Night (1994), the story of a migrant family returning to Mexico for the Christmas holidays. Carlos and his sisters are not at all sure that "home" is Mexico, although they were born there. It is difficult for them to understand their parents' enthusiasm for the long journey and for the tiny town of La Perla at the end of it. A tender revelation, when Carlos realizes that his parents left the place they deeply loved to provide their children with "opportunities," ties the tale of the journey to the season, the moment, and the future. Diaz creates an explosion of color in his familiar format of a visual environment that is whole and entire: He designed the eccentric, legible typeface; set the framed illustrations and text blocks on digitally enhanced photographs of flowers, pottery, baskets, and folk art; and filled the pictures with his signature saturated colors in bold, broad planes. These do not bind readers to the tale any more than the words do, hinting at the depth of parental love and sacrifice while distancing children from genuine understanding. An affectionate, but not exceptional offering. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1996

ISBN: 0-06-026296-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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