NOAH'S CATS AND THE DEVIL'S FIRE

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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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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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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