THE GREAT ESCAPE FROM CITY ZOO

A deadpan lesson on starting over, and the obstacles to be met on the way. An anteater, elephant, turtle, and flamingo propose to start a new life free from the bars of the past. They escape from the zoo, and then, by moving constantly, wearing disguises, and laying low, attempt to avoid the zookeepers hot on their trail. The anteater goes solo, but the other three stick together and head for the border. All appears to be going well until the anteater faints outside a taxidermy shop, the turtle falls helplessly on his back, and the elephant spouts water in the town fountain, garnering unwanted attention and leading to their return to the zoo. Only the flamingo escapes unscathed. Riddle conjures up the action in the gray-and-white misty tones of memory, for this story of derring-do is one, it’s said, that has been passed down through generations of zoo animals. In a text that has something of the terse, gritty narration of old detective stories, and with visual references to Edward Hopper, King Kong, The Grapes of Wrath, and other cultural billboards, this is a book that will have adults pausing to savor the pages as children race to the exciting conclusion. (Picture book. 3-10)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 1999

ISBN: 0-374-32776-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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GORILLA WALK

PLB 0-688-16510-9 This true adventure in the jungles of Uganda on the trail of the mountain gorilla will make armchair travelers shiver, and leave the squeamish grateful not to be trudging through mucky ankle-deep swamps, traversing giant fallen fig tree bridges over ravines that drop hundreds of feet into rocks and thorns, and coping with dreaded stinging safari ants. The Lewins traveled to Uganda in 1997, to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park for an opportunity to view the mountain gorillas that have been habituated. Every step of the way the authors provide thumbnail sketches of plants and animals, and a detailed description of the journey. The gorillas appear in watercolor paintings that are dramatic and realistic, for a picture- book adventure not to be missed, and, with the continuing unrest in the area, perhaps not to be replicated any time soon. (map, index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16509-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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