PRINCESS PENELOPE

Mack and Gran make a joint debut with this whimsical story of an inventive little girl named Penelope who likes to pretend she is a princess. In a repeating refrain set in bright pink type, she announces, “I’m Penelope, and I am a princess!” followed by a comparison of the many similarities between her lifestyle and the lives of the princesses in her fairy tales (thrones, fancy foods, servants, carriages, giving commands, and making demands). Sometimes Penelope seems to be a real little girl in the illustrations, and sometimes she does indeed seem to be a real princess, living in her own palace with her mother and father who are clearly dressed as the king and queen. At first reading, this blurring of reality and fantasy can be a bit confusing (at least to adults), but Gran’s sophisticated watercolors in shades of lavender and pink provide the clue to Penelope’s interior world. The realistic portions of the illustrations have white backgrounds and all the fantasy elements are surrounded with a subtle pink watercolor wash. Once this device is understood, Penelope’s psyche is unlocked, and we see that she is indeed a real child with a rich imagination and a solid background in traditional fairy tales. Gran’s contemporary illustrations have a French flair, incorporating thick black outlines and lots of swirling motifs complimented by a typeface that looks like handwriting. Literal-minded children won’t connect with Penelope, but imaginative princess wannabes will consider her a kindred spirit. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-439-22436-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2003

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SAY HELLO!

Today Carmelita visits her Abuela Rosa, but to get there she must walk. Down Ninth Avenue she strolls with her mother and dog. Colorful shops and congenial neighbors greet them along the way, and at each stop Carmelita says hello—in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew and more. With a friendly “Jambo” for Joseph, a “Bonjour” at the bakery and an affectionate “Hey” for Max and Angel, the pig-tailed girl happily exercises her burgeoning multilingual skills. Her world is a vibrant community, where neighborliness, camaraderie and culture are celebrated. Isadora’s collaged artwork, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats, contains lovely edges and imperfections, which abet the feeling of an urban environment. Skillfully, she draws with her scissors, the cut-paper elements acting as her line work. Everything has a texture and surface, and with almost no solid colors, the city street is realized as a real, organic place. Readers will fall for the sociable Carmelita as they proudly learn a range of salutations, and the artist’s rich environment, packed with hidden details and charming animals, will delight readers with each return visit. Simply enchanting. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-399-25230-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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TEN LITTLE FINGERS AND TEN LITTLE TOES

A pleasing poem that celebrates babies around the world. Whether from a remote village or an urban dwelling, a tent or the snow, Fox notes that each “of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes.” Repeated in each stanza, the verse establishes an easy rhythm. Oxenbury’s charming illustrations depict infants from a variety of ethnicities wearing clothing that invokes a sense of place. Her pencil drawings, with clean watercolor washes laid in, are sweetly similar to those in her early board books (Clap Hands, 1987, etc.). Each stanza introduces a new pair of babies, and the illustrations cleverly incorporate the children from the previous stanzas onto one page, allowing readers to count not only fingers and toes but also babies. The last stanza switches its focus from two children to one “sweet little child,” and reveals the narrator as that baby’s mother. Little readers will take to the repetition and counting, while parents will be moved by the last spread: a sweet depiction of mother and baby. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-15-206057-2

Page Count: 34

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2008

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