In a Romanian version of the biblical story, the devil disguises himself as a mouse and sneaks aboard the Ark after Noah orders him away. Repeatedly, the devil-mouse contrives mischief; but Noah fails to see the dirt after the mouse bathes in his washbowl, only noticing how pleasantly warm the water is; and when it gnaws holes in the grain sacks, he is happy to find that the ducks have already been fed. The devil's worst miscalculation is in enlisting the two real mice to help gnaw through the hull; Noah knows that three is the wrong number and calls his cats, who oust the intruder—thus acquiring sparks in their fur. Olson's vigorous retelling compels attention with its use of concrete, amusing detail. Moser sets the story in a rain-drenched world with many of the full-bleed illustrations painted in black watercolor on a ground of luminous deep blue-green, like the eerie light of a violent summer storm. Other illustrations are dramatic close-ups, their low vantage points and cropped edges pulling the viewer into awesome scenes: the red-eyed mouse peering from the gloom beneath a lion's face; the fuming devil, a gargoyle of fire and dark. Here, Moser, known for his subtle portraits, not only interprets and enriches the story with intriguing detail but propels it with the design's flow from page to page; as for St. Jerome and the Lion (1991), Moser's elegant typography incorporates exquisite calligraphic titles. An outstandingly handsome setting for a winner of a story. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-531-05984-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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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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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.


From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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