Caldecott Medalist and Honoree Taback (Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, 1999, etc.) has outdone himself with deeply colorful, intricately detailed and witty mixed-media illustrations of each figure in this familiar cumulative tale: cheese, rat, cat, dog, cow, maid, man, judge, rooster, and newly added artist. The fun starts with the endpapers, inventively printed with illustrations of houses accompanied by real-estate ads. Each subsequent spread includes clever extras like labels indicating how smelly various cheeses are, pictures of different breeds of cats (some real, some imaginary—like Felix, of cartoon fame) and humorous descriptions of their temperaments, and a particularly hilarious cow with its parts noted: “tail,” “loin,” “chuck,” “Big Mac.” The hand-drawn, frenetic typeface in colors contrasting with the background adds even more energy to the retelling, which is straightforward and traditional until the very end. The back cover is a spoof of an advertisement for tools “Recommended by Jack” and lists punny, whimsical names for the tools. An author’s note mentions general origins of the rhyme and explains who the mystery artist is; it turns out to be Randolph Caldecott himself, “who first had drawn a picture of the farmer. . . .” Adults in the know will enjoy pointing out his identity to children, but the joke will be lost on those not familiar with the history of children’s literature. (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-399-23488-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001


A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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