A breath of warmth from the far north.

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THE PENCIL

When their mother leaves to help a neighbor, siblings Susan, Rebecca, and Peter are surprised when their father opens his wife’s wooden box of special things.

With Anaana gone from their iglu, the children play all their usual games: a jumping contest, blindfolded hide-and-seek, drawing on the ice window, and playing with the dolls their grandmother has made for them, but soon all three become bored. However, Ataata surprises them by opening Anaana’s wooden box and taking out her pencil! He hands it and a piece of paper to Susan, the oldest and narrator, so she can draw. Soon, the other children each have a turn with the pencil, but with the paper full, they draw on the back of an empty tea box. Ataata must sharpen the pencil with his knife, making the pencil much smaller; Susan wonders what will happen when Anaana returns. Authors Avingaq and Vsetula understand life in Nunavut, Canada, and embed in the story the importance of being responsible for belongings and caring for them wisely. A helpful glossary of the Inuktitut words (italicized on first reference within the story) is included in the backmatter. Chua depicts a close, loving Inuit family dressed in furs; a traditional ulu and seal-oil lamp can be seen along with a European kettle in the cozy interior.

A breath of warmth from the far north. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77227-216-1

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Inhabit Media

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 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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In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read.

WEDGIEMAN

A HERO IS BORN

From the Adventures of Wedgieman series , Vol. 1

Captain Underpants he ain’t.

Although some may initially associate Harper and Shea’s beginning reader with Pilkey’s popular series, it falls short with a thin story and none of the master's clever sense of subversive, ribald humor. The titular hero starts as Veggiebaby, then becomes Veggieboy, then Veggieman, his growth and development attributed to his love of vegetables. He practices his superpowers as he grows, with text and art taking cheap shots at elderly women (as he lifts “a bus filled with chattering grandmas”) and overweight people (as his X-ray vision enables him to see into a house where a rotund man stands, embarrassed and clad only in his underwear: “Some things are better not seen.”) The book ends with Veggieman getting a new name from children who see a stick stuck to his shirt, making the V into a W, and dub him Wedgieman. “We don’t care about spelling,” they assure him when he objects that the word “wedgie” has a “d” and not a double “g.” His new name is sealed when (in an odd turn of events that is, sadly, characteristic of the poorly executed text) he gives himself a wedgie.

In what seems like a veritable golden age of beginning readers, perhaps some things are better not published. Or read. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-93071-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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