A challenging exercise in decoding strong human emotions—but worth the effort.

From the Netherlands via New Zealand, 10 short stories with casts of animal characters examine varying aspects of anger, whether overt, subtle, or suppressed.

In the first tale, a firebelly toad’s anger takes the form of harsh and violent attacks on other animals, causing them great pain. The toad demands expressions of anger from the victims but perceives their anger as not real or strong enough. The victims are upset because they cannot understand the immensity of the firebelly toad’s anger. In another story, a squirrel is sad that his ant friend has gone away; he cannot be angry but waits patiently for the ant’s return—but his anger is displaced, strangely enough, onto the walls of his home. Most of the tales involve animals in varying stages of anger, some directing it inward, some lashing out at others, some fearing another’s anger, and some letting it go. Many of the male animals are actively aggressive, while many of the females display stereotypes. The ant needs to be rescued, the praying mantis is a fashionista, and the frog displays jealousy. Boutavant’s rich, nuanced illustrations depict the animals as expressing human emotions and living in humanlike dwellings while still remaining true to their species in appearance. Youngsters might be quite perplexed by the tales, for Tellegen rarely provides clues to the characters’ motivations and often leaves readers to arrive at their own conclusions. They would be well served by reading and discussing the work with a loving grown-up.

A challenging exercise in decoding strong human emotions—but worth the effort. (Illustrated stories. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-776573-45-5

Page Count: 82

Publisher: Gecko Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021


However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975


Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean.

A 12-year-old copes with a brain tumor.

Maddie likes potatoes and fake mustaches. Kids at school are nice (except one whom readers will see instantly is a bully); soon they’ll get to perform Shakespeare scenes in a unit they’ve all been looking forward to. But recent dysfunctions in Maddie’s arm and leg mean, stunningly, that she has a brain tumor. She has two surgeries, the first successful, the second taking place after the book’s end, leaving readers hanging. The tumor’s not malignant, but it—or the surgeries—could cause sight loss, personality change, or death. The descriptions of surgery aren’t for the faint of heart. The authors—parents of a real-life Maddie who really had a brain tumor—imbue fictional Maddie’s first-person narration with quirky turns of phrase (“For the love of potatoes!”) and whimsy (she imagines her medical battles as epic fantasy fights and pretends MRI stands for Mustard Rat from Indiana or Mustaches Rock Importantly), but they also portray her as a model sick kid. She’s frightened but never acts out, snaps, or resists. Her most frequent commentary about the tumor, having her skull opened, and the possibility of death is “Boo” or “Super boo.” She even shoulders the bully’s redemption. Maddie and most characters are white; one cringe-inducing hallucinatory surgery dream involves “chanting island natives” and a “witch doctor lady.”

Medically, both squicky and hopeful; emotionally, unbelievably squeaky-clean. (authors’ note, discussion questions) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62972-330-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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