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It may be macabre, but it’s closer in spirit to the original than most newly refashioned folk tales.

In a little-known variant on “The Tortoise and the Hare,” the latter loses more than a race.

In country scenes that, thanks to swirling brushwork, have a windy look, Lauströer places animal figures that are drawn with feral naturalism but dressed either in 19th-century Sunday clothes or in relatively modern-looking athletic garb. (The quills of the hedgehog and his wife poke viciously through both, adding a touch of deadpan humor.) The text is closely based on the German original, with just minor wording changes and multiple morals from which the sexist language and class consciousness have been removed. Following a snide remark about his crooked back legs from a “snooty” hare, the portly hedgehog proposes a race with a gold coin and “a bottle of mead” (cognac, in the picture) as the prize. To ensure his win, he secretly stations his equally rotund wife at the course’s opposite end to say “I am here already!” The astounded hare, who can’t tell one hedgehog from another, demands one rematch after another until, on the 74th, he drops dead from exhaustion. Hedgehog and his clan dance around the bloody corpse, then adjourn for a bit of bibulous partying. Just for fun, the artist adds an elegant little tin of poop pastilles (“Koprophagie”) to the title page.

It may be macabre, but it’s closer in spirit to the original than most newly refashioned folk tales. (Picture book/folk tale. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-988-8240-40-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: minedition

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2015

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From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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When Bibi, her first and favorite babysitter, moves away, it takes all of August for 8-year-old Eleanor to get beyond her sense of loss and get used to a new caretaker. Her parents grieve, too; her mother even takes some time off work. But, as is inevitable in a two-income family, eventually a new sitter appears. Natalie is sensible and understanding. They find new activities to do together, including setting up a lemonade stand outside Eleanor’s Brooklyn apartment building, waiting for Val, the mail carrier, and taking pictures of flowers with Natalie’s camera. Gradually Eleanor adjusts, September comes, her new teacher writes a welcoming letter, her best friend returns from summer vacation and third grade starts smoothly. Best of all, Val brings a loving letter from Bibi in Florida. While the story is relatively lengthy, each chapter is a self-contained episode, written simply and presented in short lines, accessible to those still struggling with the printed word. Cordell’s gray-scale line drawings reflect the action and help break up the text on almost every page. This first novel is a promising debut. Eleanor’s concerns, not only about her babysitter, but also about playmates, friends and a new school year will be familiar to readers, who will look forward to hearing more about her life. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8109-8424-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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