BASHI, ELEPHANT BABY

Characteristic of this British team's earlier collaborations (The Snow Leopard, 1994, not reviewed, etc.), danger in the wild lurks in the form of predators until safety can be restored, but this time a slight story takes a backseat to lifelike, illustrated, natural-history dioramas about an endangered baby elephant. Bashi's first day of life finds him bogged down in the slurpy mud banks of an African watering hole, surrounded by hungry lionesses eager to make a meal of him. Bashi's mother, Neo, tries to lift the young calf with her trunk so that he does not remain a defenseless target. The threat of three lionesses provides the sole suspense as other elephant herd members attempt to aid Neo in freeing young Bashi. Sandy colors light up a sky awash in a tangerine-colored sunrise; a Mount Rushmore of lioness faces peers out of golden grasses. Butler's highly delineated wildlife studies lend a realism to each scene leading up to the rescue of Bashi, who is soon enveloped again in the comforting protection of the herd. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-87054-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1997

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A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn.

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KNIGHT OWL

A young owl achieves his grand ambition.

Owl, an adorably earnest and gallant little owlet, dreams of being a knight. He imagines himself defeating dragons and winning favor far and wide through his brave exploits. When a record number of knights go missing, Owl applies to Knight School and is surprisingly accepted. He is much smaller than the other knights-in-training, struggles to wield weapons, and has “a habit of nodding off during the day.” Nevertheless, he graduates and is assigned to the Knight Night Watch. While patrolling the castle walls one night, a hungry dragon shows up and Owl must use his wits to avoid meeting a terrible end. The result is both humorous and heartwarming, offering an affirmation of courage and clear thinking no matter one’s size…and demonstrating the power of a midnight snack. The story never directly addresses the question of the missing knights, but it is hinted that they became the dragon’s fodder, leaving readers to question Owl’s decision to befriend the beast. Humor is supplied by the characters’ facial expressions and accented by the fact that Owl is the only animal in his order of big, burly human knights. Denise’s accomplished digital illustrations—many of which are full bleeds—often use a warm sepia palette that evokes a feeling of antiquity, and some spreads feature a pleasing play of chiaroscuro that creates suspense and drama.

A charming blend of whimsy and medieval heroism highlighting the triumph of brains over brawn. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-31062-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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A handsome edition of an old favorite.

WE'RE GOING ON A BEAR HUNT

The familiar cumulative game is played by four children, along with their father and their dog, at the typically British beach pictured on the lovely, expansive first endpaper. 

The children's real activities are shown in b&w drawings; the imaginative doings appear in full color. Although some of the color pages show perfectly possible events, most are clearly fantasy, suggesting just how close the two may be in children's minds. The family ends up in safe retreat in one big cozy bed; the bear is seen--on the second essential, beautiful endpaper--headed into a gloomy sea. Oxenbury's splendid watercolors and drawings perfectly evoke both landscape and the members of the questing family. 

A handsome edition of an old favorite. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 30, 1989

ISBN: 978-0-689-50476-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1989

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