Another dazzler from Schenker though, like many of the Hausmärchen, a patchwork affair that plotwise doesn’t come close to...



The very first tale in the Brothers Grimm’s classic collection gets a lavish makeover.

Definitely not an exponent of inconspicuous book design, Schenker places finely rendered cut-paper figures with gold and silver highlights on sheets of clear acetate or plain expanses of creamy white and rich green paper for illustrations. The sheets are bound with exposed cords between plain black boards fronted by a die-cut title in an antique type, and the text—printed in several sizes, with gold initials and occasionally in green or gold ink—is a shortened and lightly burnished rendition of the 1857 and final version in an uncredited modern translation. Readers familiar with the sanitized versions and not so conscious of class expectations as formerly may well wonder what the prince, who is neither kissed nor allowed onto the royal bed but thrown against the wall, sees in the pouty, spoiled princess. It’s a question all right…but suddenly there he is, not only a hunk with “beautiful, friendly eyes,” but without further ado “her dear companion and husband.” Of the all-white cast only the prince’s servant Heinrich, the iron (gold, in the pictures) bands around his heart broken in joy, can likely look forward to a happy future.

Another dazzler from Schenker though, like many of the Hausmärchen, a patchwork affair that plotwise doesn’t come close to hanging together. (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-988-8341-47-4

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A patchy production, visually absorbing at its best but hampered by a banal and unsystematic text.


Wild animals by the score pose in plain sight or hide beneath die-cut flaps in 12 natural habitats around the world.

Designed as a companion for Jenny Broom’s city tour Walk This World, illustrated by Lotta Nieminen (2013), Brewster’s gallery of broad land- and seascapes is free of human figures but teems with distinctive flora and fauna. His figures are occasionally stylized, but he depicts them with reasonable accuracy and shows them in natural, though seldom active poses. Baker’s narrative is likewise a bit stodgy. She gives each locale a rhyming overview, muffing the final one slightly: “The shifting sands of the Australian desert / shimmer in the searing heat / and hidden far beneath the dunes / nocturnal creatures safely sleep.” In addition, she offers perfunctory observations about one to four animals (or, rarely, plants) that are revealed by peeling up the small rectangular flaps on each free page: “The rare Asian arowana or ‘dragon fish’ swims in the deep pools”; “The ibis uses its long curved bill to search for food”; etc. A map at the end retraces the overall route and provides a general sense of each scene’s location. Even though some creatures are very small or too dimly lit to make out, and many others are unidentified, at least the art will give animal lovers plenty to pore over.

A patchy production, visually absorbing at its best but hampered by a banal and unsystematic text. (Informational pop-up picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-78370-541-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.


Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A welcome addition to any collection of folk tales.


While publishers in recent years have paid some attention to Asian folk tales, there has been a paucity of stories from Vietnam. This collection of 15 tales will fill the gap.

This Vietnamese-American storyteller’s tales are a mix of variations on familiar tales and tropes, cultural pourquoi stories and legends. Familiar folk-tale elements can be seen in many, such as “The Legend of the Mosquito,” “Why Ducks Sleep on One Leg,” “Why the Sea is Salty” and a "Cinderella" variant, “The Story of Tam and Cam.” Others are rooted in Vietnam. “Da Trang and the Magic Pearl” offers an explanation for the scuttling of crabs on the beach; “The Legend of Banh Chung and Banh Day” reveals the origins of the traditional foods of Tet; “Why One Shouldn’t Sweep the House on Tet Nguyen Dan” explains another Tet tradition. An introduction explains the significance of several key elements in Vietnamese tales. A publisher’s note at the beginning describes its mission: to provide books that connect East and West. Attractive watercolor illustrations by two Vietnamese artists are scattered throughout, and the appealing cover should invite readers.

A welcome addition to any collection of folk tales. (Folk tales. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8048-4429-1

Page Count: 96

Publisher: Tuttle

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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