A STORY WITH PICTURES

What would happen if an artist were charged with illustrating an author’s picture book, but without a manuscript to work with? In this confusing portrayal of that hypothetical situation, the illustrator makes the author a character in the story, depicting her in colorful acrylics as an Olive Oyl-ish personage, a padded stick figure with a carrot-like nose. The author, now trapped within the pages, becomes the rather annoyingly high-strung narrator, fretting as she witnesses what the illustrator is doing to her story: “She painted a duck. There are no ducks in this story. I never write about ducks.” In the end, the author comes to realize that her original (lost) manuscript is much more boring than the illustrator’s new creation that adorns her in comfortable new slippers and lets her fight dragons and travel to outer space. Unfortunately, multiple fonts at various angles, clunky photo-collage elements and a hard-to-track narrative render this offering more an awkward jumble than a playful, perspective-tweaking exploration of the dynamic bookmaking process. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8234-2049-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more