PETER AND THE WOLF

An adventurous boy disregards his grandfather’s orders to remain behind the closed garden gate when a fierce wolf is spotted in the neighborhood. When the dangerous wolf threatens Peter’s wildlife friends in the meadow, he succeeds in tricking and capturing it with the help of a small bird. The happy ending shows the hunters, Peter and Grandfather, proudly leading the wolf to the zoo. The story is best known as the narrative to Prokofiev’s symphony written for children, which introduces orchestral instruments through musical themes that represented each character. To those already familiar with the music, it may reverberate in their heads as they read the text. For those unfamiliar with the music, an afterword includes the musical notation and instrumentation of the themes and a very brief biography of Prokofiev. Peter’s story stands alone, illustrated with Vagin’s (The Enormous Carrot, 1998, etc.) pencil and watercolor drawings. Clothing, tableware, architecture, and Peter’s toys represent the pre-Revolutionary Russia of Prokofiev’s music and portray an authentic Russian folk quality. Each action-filled page depicts the personalities of the characters and their realistic actions: the cat hunches close to the ground as she stalks the bird; the wolf licks his lips in anticipation of a tasty meal; the duck’s feathers fly as he tries to run before the wolf swallows him whole. The exciting illustrations give another context to a modern folktale than can co-exist with the symphony that first made it famous. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-590-38608-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2000

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RAIN SCHOOL

It takes a village to make a school. In Chad, big brothers and sisters lead the way for younger children on the first day of school. Little Thomas is full of questions. When he and the other children arrive, there are no classrooms and no desks. But the teacher's there, holding a trowel. "We will build our school," she declares. Everyone sets to work, making mud bricks that dry in the sun and a roof out of grass and saplings. Thomas loves his lessons; every day he learns something new. At the end of the school year, the minds of the students "are fat with knowledge." And just in time: The rainy season arrives and makes short work of the schoolhouse. Come September, they'll start all over. Rumford's illustrations make great use of color, dark brown skin and bright shirts, shorts and dresses against golden backgrounds, the hues applied in smudgy layers that infuse each scene with warmth—until the gray rains arrive. It's a nifty social-studies lesson tucked into a warm tale of community. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2010

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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