The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, as seen through a little girl’s eyes. Young Katie misses her Da, who left Ireland to go to Boston more than two Christmases ago. Most of what she eats at Grand Da’s is potatoes, not with milk and onion and butter, as Mam used to make, but plain boiled. Katie wishes the potatoes away, and is horrified when they begin to turn black and mushy. Katie believes it is her fault, and guilt gnaws at her like the hunger, especially when Grannie takes sick and they have to sell Pig. But Da sends money for Katie to come to America, and she and her cousin Brian take that cramped and tumultuous voyage. When she arrives and Da takes her to her aunt’s home, her fear and guilt come tumbling out at the sight of Aunt Meg’s potatoes, made like Mam’s. Her father soothes her and assures her it isn’t her fault; words cannot make bad things happen. While the resolution is a bit pat, the famine is put in terms that small children can understand, and they will recognize Katie’s fear. Her grandparents’ cottage, the verdant and stricken land, the miserable trip to Galway and then across the ocean, and finally her reunion with her Da are rendered by Caldecott-winner McCully (Mirette on the High Wire, 1991) in fine soft pictures, a misty-moisty, gray-and-green palette, brightened by Katie’s—and her father’s—red hair. (author’s note) (Picture book/historical fiction. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-8037-2478-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2002

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As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...


From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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