Dedicated to Ungerer’s adopted Ireland and its people, this is a poignant, magical gift for us all.

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FOG ISLAND

The renowned Ungerer presents an atmospheric, folkloric adventure celebrating the childhood imagination’s ability to transform fear.

Finn, Cara and their parents farm traditionally along the coast, raising food, fishing, cutting peat and spinning wool. Their father builds his children a rowboat (called a curragh), admonishing them to avoid eerie Fog Island. While the siblings are out exploring, an enveloping fog and strong currents necessitate an emergency landing on the island. Climbing steps up spooky rock cliffs, they encounter the Fog Man, his hair and beard cascading to his ankles. After showing them how he uses valves, the Earth’s magma and seawater to make fog, he provides songs, seafood stew and a good night’s rest. Next morning, though they wake in a ruined room with no sign of the Fog Man, bowls of hot stew await them. Finn and Cara’s mysterious, shared experiences on Fog Island belie their neighbors’ skepticism, and when, weeks later, Cara finds a very long hair in her soup, they giggle knowingly. Ungerer’s pictures are cloaked in deliberate, misty grays and browns, accented with blue-green and red. Details abound, including sly ones: Might that be the author, fiddling at the pub, just below a mysterious, flowing mane of hair? The publisher’s ever-lovely bookmaking is evidenced in the creamy stock, crisp typography and embossed boards.

Dedicated to Ungerer’s adopted Ireland and its people, this is a poignant, magical gift for us all. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 16, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7148-6535-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Phaidon

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2013

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Counting has never been so mysterious or so much fun

7 ATE 9

Pun fun reigns over this fast-paced whodunit.

Private I of the Al F. Bet agency is at his desk when a frantic 6 races in. 7 is “after me,” declares the distressed numeral. Answers Private I: “Well, technically, he’s always after you.” The detective, narrating his caper noir-style, dons his fedora and follows the numbers. The case is solved when he upends the evidence and proclaims that 6 is really 9. This is followed by very humorous and slightly philosophical analysis of numerical significances. Is being in “seventh heaven” better than having “NINE lives!” or not? Lazar’s text is straight out of the classic detective genre, as are MacDonald’s illustrations, which are a mix of colored pencil, watercolor, and 19th-century wood type, all composed in Photoshop. The scenes are clearly set in an old-time Manhattan, with the office, streets, and harbor reimagining movie sets straight out of the 1930s and ’40s, albeit colorized. The oversized letters and numerals all have very entertaining faces and tiny protruding arms and legs that convey constant movement. The name of the detective agency is an adventure in pronunciation. Is it the English word “alphabet” or the Hebrew words for alphabet: “alef bet”?

Counting has never been so mysterious or so much fun . (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4847-1779-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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Readers will enjoy watching this clueless detective get the “mane” job done in spite of himself.

AGENT LION

An inept lion detective searches for a missing cat.

After receiving his assignment from Ms. Chief (an elephant), Agent Lion takes two hours to reach the home of Fluffy’s owner, Ms. Flamingo. (A map tracking his route from his office shows stops at fast-food joints and entertainment venues. Readers will note the more direct path he could have followed had distractions not beckoned.) Arriving on the scene, Agent Lion asks Ms. Flamingo ludicrous questions and posits absurd theories; checks for clues in unlikely places, including the refrigerator; and wreaks havoc when interviewing neighbors throughout her building. As the self-absorbed, doughnut-loving gumshoe continues his ridiculous investigation, Ms. Flamingo, patience gone, declares the unsolved case over. Still, she invites Agent Lion back to her apartment for tea. Dejectedly arranging the couch’s pillows, Agent Lion finally—and unwittingly—locates Fluffy. All ends well as neighbors convene for a sweet celebration. This is a lightweight but humorous story; readers will chuckle at the silly questions Agent Lion asks and the witty, knowing comments he makes about cats. The ending, though predictable and unoriginal, satisfies. Lion is amusing; self-confident; and, as depicted in these delicate cartoon illustrations, very expressive, as are the other animal characters (including the beady-eyed pigeon Lion spies on a rooftop). Readers will also appreciate the endpapers’ displays of mouthwatering doughnuts.

Readers will enjoy watching this clueless detective get the “mane” job done in spite of himself. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286917-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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