Still, another solid addition to tall-tale collections.

MISS SALLY ANN AND THE PANTHER

Miller and Lloyd team up for another rollicking tall-tale adventure (Davy Crockett Gets Hitched, 2009).

While gathering onions on a bone-cold morning in woods so thick the sun can’t shine through, Miss Sally Ann Thunder, dressed in her best bear fur, and Fireeyes, the “hugeceously smart and mean as tarnation” panther, come face to face, each coveting the other’s coat to keep out the winter chill. The rip-roaring battle that ensues changes the world around them—a new gorge is formed, skunks lose their stripes, the Milky Way curdles—but neither is able to gain the upper hand. By the next morning’s light, they stop to appreciate each other's fine fighting skills…and smile at one another, suddenly great friends. Fireeyes lives with Miss Sally Ann now, helping around the house and lying on her feet to keep them warm in the winter, her best bear fur around his shoulders. Miller’s rambunctious read-aloud is peppered with word itching to be shared—thunderific, swaggerous, conbobberation, terrifiacious, ripsnorting, as well as the delightful, though too-often-repeated, varmint. Lloyd’s acrylic artwork masterfully conveys texture, each hair on the panther and needle on the evergreens sharply defined. Miss Sally Ann’s larger-than-life personality comes through as she wrestles with the giant cat, though some readers may have trouble with her pioneer attitudes: She collects eagle eggs for eggnog and wants to kill the panther just for his pelt.

Still, another solid addition to tall-tale collections. (Picture book/tall tale. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8234-1833-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2012

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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