Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Daedal Doodle


Trippy, creative, and thoughtful, this vocabulary book should awaken imaginations.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

An ABC book for all ages features the artist/author’s illustrations of unusual words in unexpected combinations, from “apperceptive achatina” to “zooid zeppelin’s zygote.”

Stabin, an illustrator with a long career whose work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Newsweek, and Rolling Stone, has designed nine U.S. postage stamps. His work has been displayed in the National Portrait Gallery. In creating ABC illustrations for his young daughters, the author kept finding “fascinating words” in the dictionary that he “couldn’t wait to illustrate.” In 26 alliterative phrases from A to Z, this debut book explains uncommon vocabulary with dictionary definitions and pronunciations, example sentences, and loopy, surreal drawings. These are mostly in black and white, but some include pops of color as well as photographed images. Under K, for example, the capital letter seems to be composed of some alien tubas, feather dusters, and a stepladder (readers can concoct their own interpretations as part of the fun). The phrase for K is “kaonic karakul”; “kaonic” involves certain subatomic particles, and a “karakul” is a kind of sheep. The main illustration depicts spheres and orbital paths, among which some sheep are jumping; one is bubbly, as if covered with atomic particles. The accompanying sentence reads “Kaonic karakuls are the subatomic sheep that physicists count to go to sleep.” As this example shows, the vocabulary can be challenging even for adults, yet the book’s witty playfulness invites readers in, as do the dynamic, spiky/swooping lines of the artwork. Some pages fold out for larger display, giving the book a generous feel. Kids will enjoy finding the acorns on every page except for F (because “fig fauns only like figs,” naturally). There are a few missteps; for example, “nucivorous” means nut-eating, not nut-bearing; and why not include a note about Daedalus under the entry for “daedal,” especially because Daedalus is mentioned in passing later under “minotaur”? The book’s second edition includes a FAQ, curriculum guidance for the classroom, and examples of student work.

Trippy, creative, and thoughtful, this vocabulary book should awaken imaginations. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016


If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Close Quickview