ZULEMA AND THE WITCH OWL/ZULEMA Y LA BRUJA LECHUZA

The disturbing use of scare tactics to reform a mean-spirited, nine-year-old bully lies at the heart of this bilingual English/Spanish story. One-dimensional Zulema is “the meanest little girl in the whole wide world,” equally unleashing her wrath at children, adults, puppies and kittens. But she finds her comeuppance in her 90-year-old grandmother, who warns her of the Witch Owl that “always comes looking for mean little boys and girls” and takes them away. Undeterred, Zulema continues in her ways, but at night she investigates a tapping at her window and discovers the oversized, white-feathered body and creepy wide eyes of the Witch Owl, ready to take an instantly reformed Zulema away. With a suspicious white feather falling from her hair, Grandma intervenes to assure Zulema that it was just a bad dream. Lurid gouaches paint grotesque expressions, and the device of a vignette of the grandmother’s face gradually transforming into the frightening bird adds to the disquieting theme. What might work well as an oral cautionary tale translates into a detrimentally moralistic book. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 31, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55885-515-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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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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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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