A celebration of winter and competition that will likely appeal to children who’ve dreamed of Olympic glory—or of a big,...

Snowman Paul and the Winter Olympics

SNOWMAN PAUL

Lapid’s debut picture book puts a wintry spin on an eternal, favorite childhood dream: Olympic glory.

Snowman Paul wants to try out for the Winter Olympics, but his human friend Dan says that he’s too old. Paul boards a bus and heads to the Winter Olympics anyway. “What could I do?” Dan asks as he tags along to watch his “swell-headed-pile-of-snow” pal compete. The story flows in simple verse and intuitive rhymes: “I knew my Paul was very clever, / Perhaps the smartest snowman ever.” The dynamic, full-spread illustrations of Paul’s winter sporting events and the pacing of the story will grab and keep young children’s attention. The illustrations are more than just pretty pictures: the subtle shades of blue and gray in the snow droplets make the action scenes look lifelike and energetic, as if the snow is spilling across the pages. They complement the story, sweeping readers along as Paul seeks his Olympic dream. One single sentence is broken across eight pages of Olympic action: “Curling, / Snowboard, / The luge-run, / Guess who, each time, was / Number One?” To Dan’s surprise, Paul stacks up gold medals like Michael Phelps. But this is no simple follow-your-dreams book—the mood is triumphant only until Dan suspects Paul might be cheating. At first Paul sulks and pouts. “ ‘No way,’ snapped Paul. ‘That isn’t true!’ ” At last, he and Dan look for a way to make things right. Instead of an overdone morality lesson, this tale gently criticizes the extreme culture of winning and cheating, as well as temperamental professional athletes. Unfortunately, even though the story is set at the Olympics, the premier intercultural sporting event in the world, it doesn’t include an illustration of a single person who’s clearly from another country, and almost every person in the book appears to be white. As a result, the book misses the chance to add some genuine diversity.

A celebration of winter and competition that will likely appeal to children who’ve dreamed of Olympic glory—or of a big, friendly snowman coming to life.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9973899-2-0

Page Count: 46

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2016

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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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