THE LONELY LIONESS AND THE OSTRICH CHICKS

A lonely lioness and a resolute mother ostrich take center stage among a cast of African animal characters in this model Aardema retelling of a Masai folktale. As in Who's in Rabbit's House? (1977), Aardema (Jackal's Flying Lesson, 1995, etc.) bases the tale on a version from her 1969 Tales for the Third Ear (o.p.). Her simplified, uncluttered tale with a modified ending contains many ingredients of good storytelling: villain and trickster, threat of danger, the seemingly weak outwitting the strong, and animals with human foibles. When a lioness, who would be happy with even one cub, sees four ostrich chicks, she impulsively steals them and calls them her own. Mother Ostrich solicits help from a gazelle, a hyena, a jackal, but it's the clever mongoose who outsmarts the lioness. Aardema uses repetition and pacing along with sounds based on African ideophones to tell this tale of a mother's unwavering determination to protect and rescue her vulnerable children from the lioness's misplaced longings. Setting the tale apart are Heo's subtle, distinctive paintings with African motifs in a fresh and unexpected primitive folk style. Unique compositions and perspectives, combined with a subdued palette that uses all the greens, golds, and ochres of the grasslands, challenge existing geometric notions of African art. (Picture book/folklore. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-86934-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1996

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books.

BUSY BETTY

Actor and author Witherspoon makes her picture-book debut.

Betty, a light-skinned, bespectacled child with blond pigtails, was born busy. Constantly in motion, Betty builds big block towers, cartwheels around the house (underfoot, of course), and plays with the family’s “fantabulous” dog, Frank, who is stinky and dirty. That leads to a big, busy, bright idea that, predictably, caroms toward calamity yet drags along enough hilarity to be entertaining. With a little help from best friend Mae (light-skinned with dark hair), the catastrophe turns into a lucrative dog-washing business. Busy Betty is once again ready to rush off to the next big thing. Yan uses vivid, pastel colors for a spread of a group of diverse kids bringing their dogs to be washed, helping out, and having fun, while the grown-ups are muted and relegated to the background. Extreme angles in several of the illustrations effectively convey a sense of perpetual motion and heighten the story’s tension, drawing readers in. An especially effective, glitter-strewn spread portrays Frank looming large and seemingly running off the page while Betty looks on, stricken at the ensuing mess. Though it’s a familiar and easily resolved story, Witherspoon’s rollicking text never holds back, replete with amusing phrases such as “sweet cinnamon biscuits,” “bouncing biscuits,” and “busted biscuits.” As Betty says, “Being busy is a great way to be.” Young readers are sure to agree. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

An entertaining, if light, addition to the growing shelf of celebrity-authored picture books. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-46588-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Flamingo Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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