THE HISTORY OF HELPLESS HARRY

TO WHICH IS ADDED A VARIETY OF AMUSING AND ENTERTAINING ADVENTURES

A literary conceit, mocking the conventions and sentiments of old-time fiction, has precious little chance with youngsters of nine or so. But this one self-destructs in the first couple of pages—when we're asked to think of eleven-year-old Harry, child of overprotective parents, as a "small boy" whose "soft eyes and appealing mouth" have caused him to be taken as helpless. And throughout the ensuing events, he hasn't indeed a clue to what we, the readers, know: that Miss Annie Trowbridge, the minister's 15-year-old ward who's taking care of him in his parents' absence, is really married to Mr. Nicholas Pym (whom she introduces as her half-brother); that she laughed at a proposal from fat Constable Narbut, so he's out for revenge; that his parents told a fellow-passenger, Mr. Jeremiah Skatch, seller of uplifting tracts, about the strongbox they left behind in Miss T.'s care, so he's out to get the box and lay the blame on Miss T. Harry just resents Miss T. (because his parents went off); is taken in by Mr. S. (because he calls him "brave, bold," etc.); and never does get straightened out until the last pages. . . of a book that's mostly making fun of itself (and not a little of poor Harry). A dubious undertaking not very well executed.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1981

ISBN: 0688053033

Page Count: 179

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1981

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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