TUCKER PFEFFERCORN

AN OLD STORY RETOLD

As he did with The Tinderbox (1990), Moser sets a story based on ``Rumpelstiltskin'' in Appalachia and updates its themes. Bessie Grace Kinzalow is no feckless maiden; she's a self-reliant young widow who earns a living picking cotton. Her oppressor is local tyrant Hezakiah Sweatt (a mine- and landowner whose ``thugs'' killed Bessie's husband), who overhears an inventive storyteller saying that Bessie can spin cotton into gold. Sweatt demands that she prove it or lose her baby; she's rescued by a little man who spins the gold, causes Sweatt's mysterious disappearance (``Some said he was done in by a bunch of miners...''), demands the baby as pay, but splits in two when Bessie guesses his name. Though the old tale and injustice in the rural South make rather odd companions (Moser's story has dramatic energy and a good oral lilt, but its darker added import seems obscure), the watercolor portraits of the principals are outstanding—mellow codgers trading tales; grim Sweatt in pin- stripes and suspenders, the essence of cold evil; plausible little Tucker Pfeffercorn, not really as nice as he seems. Worth pondering. (Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: April 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-316-58542-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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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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