Lavish illustrations elevate this adaptation of a classic.

THE ODE TO THE GODDESS OF THE LUO RIVER

In this retelling of an ancient Chinese poem, a writer imagines the doomed love between the earthly and heavenly in this oversized picture book for older readers.

Returning from a visit with the emperor, poet Cao Zhi passes by the River Luo. “As the ancient tale goes, underneath the river lives a beautiful goddess”—so, as a writer, Cao decides to put forth his own story of a different goddess of the majestic river. Cao’s goddess is ethereal: “she dazzles like the sun rising in the morning…she’s as luminous as the lotus that grows in the shallows.” Love is instant between poet and goddess, but with love comes hesitation and worry. Ultimately, the goddess concludes that “the world of humans and gods could never exist together.” Readers unfamiliar with the poem will likely find the level of narrative detail insufficient, and consequently the melancholy ebbs rather than flows forth. Ye’s illustrations, however, are lush in detail and lovely in strangeness. The illustrator injects traditional elements of Chinese paintings with a modern playfulness and whimsy. Big-eyed fish, fantastical creatures, and odd flora and fauna fill the pages. Elements of the natural world adorn the Goddess of Luo to evoke the otherworldly. Instead of being enrobed by traditional Chinese clothing, a flowing cape ending in a fish tail drapes over her body. Strands of pearls surround her and come to life as fairies. Four multipage gatefolds stunningly capture both the movement in the illustrations and the scale of the tale.

Lavish illustrations elevate this adaptation of a classic. (glossary, notes) (Picture book. 9-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-988-8341-94-8

Page Count: 78

Publisher: Minedition

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers.

DON'T READ THIS BOOK BEFORE BED

THRILLS, CHILLS, AND HAUNTINGLY TRUE STORIES

A compendium of paranormal doings, natural horrors, and eerie wonders worldwide and (in several senses) beyond.

Maladroit title aside (“…in Bed” would make more sense, cautionwise), this collection of hauntings, cryptids, natural and historical mysteries, and general titillation (“Vampire bats might be coming for you!”) offers a broad array of reasons to stay wide awake. Arranged in no discernible order the 60-plus entries include ghostly sightings in the White House and various castles, body-burrowing guinea worms, the Nazca lines of Peru, Mothman and Nessie, the hastily abandoned city of Pripyat (which, thanks to the Chernobyl disaster, may be habitable again…in 24,000 years), monarch-butterfly migrations, and diverse rains of fish, frogs, fireballs, and unidentified slime. Each is presented in a busy whirl of narrative blocks, photos, graphics, side comments, and arbitrary “Fright-O-Meter” ratings (Paris’ “Creepy Catacombs” earn just a “4” out of 10 and black holes a “3,” but the aforementioned aerial amphibians a full “10”). The headers tend toward the lurid: “Jelly From Space,” “Zombie Ants,” “Mongolian Death Worm.” Claybourne sprinkles multiple-choice pop quizzes throughout for changes of pace.

A rich source of terrors both real and manufactured, equally effective in broad daylight or beneath the bedcovers. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2841-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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THE ARABIAN NIGHTS

In a large, handsome format, Tarnowska offers six tales plus an abbreviated version of the frame story, retold in formal but contemporary language and sandwiched between a note on the Nights’ place in her childhood in Lebanon and a page of glossary and source notes. Rather than preserve the traditional embedded structure and cliffhanger cutoffs, she keeps each story discrete and tones down the sex and violence. This structure begs the question of why Shahriyar lets Shahrazade [sic] live if she tells each evening’s tale complete, but it serves to simplify the reading for those who want just one tale at a time. Only the opener, “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp,” is likely to be familiar to young readers; in others a prince learns to control a flying “Ebony Horse” by “twiddling” its ears, contending djinn argue whether “Prince Kamar el Zaman [or] Princess Boudour” is the more beautiful (the prince wins) and in a Cinderella tale a “Diamond Anklet” subs for the glass slipper. Hénaff’s stylized scenes of domed cityscapes and turbaned figures add properly whimsical visual notes to this short but animated gathering. (Folktales. 10-12)

 

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-84686-122-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2010

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