Catastrophically undermines its own message.

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THE UGLY DOODLES

Artwork has paranormal staying power.

Raven, a peach-skinned girl with curly red hair, sees masterpieces in an art museum and sets out to create some herself. It’s harder than she thinks, and although she works diligently, she finds the results “ugly.” She gathers up the so-called “doodles” and stuffs them under the bed. But just like the cat in the old folk song, the papers come back. Not a wardrobe nor the attic nor even the recycling center can hold them; they return onto her mirror, into her bed, and even—eek!—as part of “a brand-new box of drawing pads made from 100 percent recycled paper.” Three visual tones—Raven’s art, styled like a child’s black-and-white pencil drawings; Raven’s huge, round, uber-glossy cartoon eyes; and ominously dark backgrounds that turn dystopically yellow at the recycling center—complement but also jar against one another, parallel to the way the drawings’ reappearances unsettle Raven. When Raven finally takes her “hideous. Miserable-looking. Mess-ups” and works on them again until they’re “perfected” into her “very own gallery of masterpieces,” the delicious spookiness vanishes into a boring moral. Moreover, the text’s consistent and incorrect use of the term “doodle” is not only inaccurate—doodles are casual or absentminded, whereas Raven tries hard, even at the beginning—it belittles Raven’s deliberate artwork. Even more importantly, it dismisses young readers’ deliberate artwork too.

Catastrophically undermines its own message. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-45626-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite.

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AFTER THE FALL (HOW HUMPTY DUMPTY GOT BACK UP AGAIN)

Humpty Dumpty, classically portrayed as an egg, recounts what happened after he fell off the wall in Santat’s latest.

An avid ornithophile, Humpty had loved being atop a high wall to be close to the birds, but after his fall and reassembly by the king’s men, high places—even his lofted bed—become intolerable. As he puts it, “There were some parts that couldn’t be healed with bandages and glue.” Although fear bars Humpty from many of his passions, it is the birds he misses the most, and he painstakingly builds (after several papercut-punctuated attempts) a beautiful paper plane to fly among them. But when the plane lands on the very wall Humpty has so doggedly been avoiding, he faces the choice of continuing to follow his fear or to break free of it, which he does, going from cracked egg to powerful flight in a sequence of stunning spreads. Santat applies his considerable talent for intertwining visual and textual, whimsy and gravity to his consideration of trauma and the oft-overlooked importance of self-determined recovery. While this newest addition to Santat’s successes will inevitably (and deservedly) be lauded, younger readers may not notice the de-emphasis of an equally important part of recovery: that it is not compulsory—it is OK not to be OK.

A validating and breathtaking next chapter of a Mother Goose favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62672-682-6

Page Count: 45

Publisher: Roaring Brook

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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