THE SINGING SNAKE

When ``Old Man'' promises to make a musical instrument in honor of the creature with the most beautiful voice, Snake cheats: Jealous of Lark's song but unable to imitate it, he captures the bird in his throat. Though the voice now expresses anguish, the other animals are impressed by its beauty, and Old Man names Snake the winner. As promised, he does make an instrument that looks like Snake—a long, straight horn; but, meanwhile, Lark scratches Snake's throat so that, even after he lets her go, his voice is forever harsh—while the other animals, disgusted with his perfidy, refuse to speak to him. Czernecki illustrates this nicely balanced retelling of an Australian pourquoi tale with glowing illustrations in jewel-like tones, incorporating stylized aboriginal motifs in his striking, decorative designs. (Folklore/Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 19, 1993

ISBN: 1-56282-399-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1993

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HOW CHIPMUNK GOT HIS STRIPES

A TALE OF BRAGGING AND TEASING

Noted storyteller Bruchac (Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving, p. 1498, etc.) teams up with his son, James (Native American Games and Stories, not reviewed) to present a pourquoi tale from the East Coast Native American tradition. Bear is undeniably big; he is also a braggart, given to walking through the forest and proclaiming his superiority to all within earshot: “I can do anything! Yes, I can!” When he hears this, little Brown Squirrel challenges Bear to tell the sun not to rise the next day. This Bear does, and when the sun does in fact rise despite his injunction not to, Brown Squirrel unwisely gloats: “Bear is foolish, the sun came up. Bear is silly, the sun came up.” Thanks to trickery, Brown Squirrel escapes with his life, but not before Bear claws the stripes into his back that cause him to change his name to Chipmunk. The Bruchacs translate the orality of the tale to written text beautifully, including dialogue that invites audience participation. Aruego and Dewey’s (Mouse in Love, p. 886, etc.) signature cartoon-like illustrations extend the humor of the text perfectly. One spread shows the faces of all the animals rejoicing in the yellow light of the newly risen sun—all except Bear, whose glower contrasts ominously with Brown Squirrel’s glee. Clever use of perspective emphasizes the difference in size between boastful Bear and his pint-sized trickster opponent. Authors’ notes precede the story, explaining the history of the tale and each teller’s relationship to it. A winner. (Picture book/folktale. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-8037-2404-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Effectively argues that “People are more powerful together.”

SOMETIMES PEOPLE MARCH

Simple, direct statements are paired with watercolor illustrations to highlight some of the rallying causes for organized marches throughout the history of the United States.

The text and art begin with two marches that will reemerge as metaphor later in the book: a long line of ants marching to and from a piece of watermelon, and members of a blue-and-gold–clad marching band following their leader’s baton. As the band recedes on the verso, across the gutter an extremely diverse group of people similar to the crowds marching across the book’s cover advances toward readers on recto. Here the text repeats the book’s title. Next, negative space surrounds a small group of women and children—obviously from an earlier time—holding a protest sign. The text explains that sometimes people march “to resist injustice.” The facing page shows a contemporary family gazing with chagrin at a polluted beach; they will march because they “notice a need for change.” The text continues to offer simple explanations of why people march, eventually moving to other peaceful means of resistance, including signs, boycotts, strikes, sit-ins, and “taking a knee.” Hardship in the form of physical and psychic exhaustion is mentioned, but police and other legally sanctioned violence against protest is not—the general mood is uplifting encouragement to young, potential activists. This timely book combines rudimentary facts about peaceful resistance with art that depicts organized actions from the 19th century through today, and endnotes reveal more specifics about each illustration, including historic figures represented.

Effectively argues that “People are more powerful together.” (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299118-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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