THE THISTLE PRINCESS

French (Once Upon a Picnic, 1996, etc.) mirrors Hans Christian Andersen in an original Thumbelina-like fairy tale, in which a child, magically born of a thistle, comes to a childless king and queen. They are so happy that they build protective gates and walls around the kingdom and garden to keep every harm and everyone away from their beloved daughter. The princess misses the children she once laughed and played with, and in her isolation grows more and more despondent, until little is left but a wisp. Sadly, she blows away like a seed in the wind, but not until her true work is done. The story, with its lovely sentiments, is almost overwhelmed by the intentionally flowery language, but some children will take to the telling with their whole hearts. Delicate watercolor illustrations make use of borders to gracefully frame text and depict elongated toy-soldier-like figures prancing among the topiaries. Especially enchanting is the bookmaking_a fine design on creamy paper that feels satiny to the touch. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-7636-0307-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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