KOI AND THE KOLA NUTS

An irrepressible youth turns a missed opportunity into good fortune in this frenetic retelling of an African folktale from Aardema (This for That, 1997, etc.). When his father, the chief of his people, dies, Koi is out hunting and so misses the division of property among his brothers (including the distribution of ivory tusks), leaving him with a lone kola tree as his inheritance. Undeterred, Koi sees this as a chance to explore the world. On his journey, he encounters several creatures who are in need of assistance: a snake with a sick mother, a frantic army of ants fleeing the Forest Devil, and a penitent crocodile facing the wrath of the Rainmaker, whose dog he ate. Koi’s kola nuts are always the answer to the desperate animals’ prayers. When he comes upon the realm of Chief Fulikolli, a ragged Koi accepts the challenge of winning the hand of the chief’s daughter and one half of his chiefdom. With the aid of the grateful creatures, Koi performs three seemingly impossible tasks. Laced with the liberal humor that is Aardema’s hallmark, Koi’s story and his sturdy spirit will draw readers in, as will the many uses of the kola nut and the lesson of doing good for others. In Cepeda’s vibrant illustrations, the Liberian landscape glistens and its people dance across the page, while the last scene—of Koi as a chief—is a portrait of ebullience rewarded. (glossary) (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81760-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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PIGS

Gibbons’s 100th book is devoted to presenting swine in a positive light; she quickly demystifies the stereotypes that cast pigs as smelly, dirty, greedy, and dull. Descended and domesticated from the wild boar, pigs come in hundreds of varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes; in simple language, the book outlines their characteristics, breeds, intelligence, communication, habits, and uses. The author distinguishes the various terms—hog, swine, gilt, sow, boar—while also explaining the act of wallowing in mud. The bulk of the text is characteristically factual, but Gibbons allows herself an opinion or two: “They are cute and lovable with their curly tails, their flat pink snouts and their noisy squeals and grunts.” Pen-and-watercolor drawings show sprightly pigs and a plethora of pink-cheeked children in tranquil farm scenes. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1441-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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DORY STORY

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy. Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny’s dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become—he worries’someone’s lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn’t diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched. A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-075-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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