A timeless fable about love and courage, well-told and beautifully illustrated.

MOUNTAIN GARDEN

In this illustrated tale, a young stag makes a dangerous journey to a legendary garden to get help when his herd is attacked by wolves.

Buckan, a young stag, is charged by his father to find the Great King Stag after their herd is attacked by wolves and the lions, their former allies, turn on them: “The King will know what to do. He is our only hope.” Buckan leaves behind the beech woods of home for a peril-filled climb to the Mountain Garden, where the Great King Stag lives. He dodges snarling wolves, his own panic and fear, and other dangers while meeting creatures like Bat, Crocodile and Salmon. The King appears to Buckan and willingly surrenders himself to Lion; just before his spirit leaves his body, the King tells the younger stag, “My brave friend, follow your heart with love and valour.” A black stallion tells Buckan: “You are ready to realize your destiny….When you connect to Mountain Garden, you remain strongly rooted in love. This will overcome fear.” Returning home, Buckan rallies the stags for a last desperate battle. In his debut book, Ottley presents a swiftly moving, muscular fable with evocative descriptions of the natural world: “[T]he bats began to rise up in the dawn sky, a magnificent cloud of fluttering silhouettes.” In a story that can be equally appreciated by adults and children, he makes tangible Buckan’s pain, fear and hope, helped by excellent use of traditional elements from fables and fairy tales, such as animal helpers and the journey motif. Holt’s black-and-white illustrations, with the active, brushy but serene feel of Japanese ink paintings, match the story well. There’s a downside, though, to the book’s philosophy, as expressed by Salmon: “I began to realise that my outer world reflected my inner thinking.” This comes dangerously close to blaming the oppressed for their oppression; besides, surely the outer world has agency, too.

A timeless fable about love and courage, well-told and beautifully illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0992776305

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Perpetualaum Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2014

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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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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