HOW NANITA LEARNED TO MAKE FLAN

In perfect harmony with Geeslin’s story Mathers captures the rose, purple, lemon-yellow, and desert-green of Mexico. Nanita’s father the shoemaker is so busy in their tiny Mexican town that he has no time to make her shoes, even though it will soon be her First Communion. Nanita has watched him work, so one night she makes a wonderful pair of shoes herself out of scraps in bright colors, and falls asleep still wearing them. The shoes have a spirit all their own, so when Nanita awakes she is far away by a house in the desert. The ranchero takes her in, but the old woman takes her shoes and makes Nanita do all the work. The ranchero’s parrot (who sports an eyepatch from his pirate days) befriends Nanita, and they plot their escape, but not until the old woman teaches Nanita how to make flan. Nanita is welcomed with glad cries by her father, and she attends her First Communion in soft slippers that he has made for her. The spirited parrot, a lightning-fast pace, droll illustrations, and a recipe for flan on the endpapers combine for a wondrous piece of bookmaking. With its gestures to other tales and to magic realism, the volume is thoroughly beguiling in both word and image. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-81546-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1999

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THE LOST BOY AND THE MONSTER

Strete pens an ode to tolerance that is none too subtle, but the stunning artwork from Johnson and Fancher should keep viewers involved. The story is a parable couched as a Native American tale, in which a boy (identified by Strete as lost and without a name, although why this is important is never made clear) comes across a rattlesnake and a scorpion, both of whom wonder why the boy doesn’t kill them: “Why should I do that? Snakes belong in this world just like me.” Scorpions, too, the boy chirps. The venomous critters adopt the boy as a brother and when he gets trapped by the Old Foot Eater, a monster who lives in a medicine basket on top of a tree, catching his quarry with a sticky rope, the rattlesnake and scorpion come to his rescue and seal the monster’s doom. Good deeds fly thick and fast here, but without context. The illustrations draw their hues from the American southwest, while the paint is scratched to convey a sense of age and animation, and the monster is a ghoulish, block-headed, spine-chilling delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-399-22922-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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MAMA AND ME AND THE MODEL T

PLB 0-688-15299-6 The Searcys and the Longs (Mountain Wedding, 1996) return in this deep-South, mountain-valley duel of the sexes. Mandy Searcy tells about the arrival of a Model T on the farm. Mr. Long, Mandy’s stepfather, has just purchased the vehicle and is showing it off to the extended family. He calls the boys over for a closer inspection of the wondrous machine. “Cars are for boys,” chirps one boy, looking for trouble. “Girls just ride,” chides another. Mrs. Searcy thinks otherwise. She brushes past the protesting Mr. Long, commandeers the car, and races off with Mandy in the death seat. “We bobbed across a stump at the edge of the yard and ran over a crape of myrtle bush—Mama flattened a pine sapling before tearing through the pasture fence and shimmying over a hill.” It is one lovely rural landscape Mrs. Searcy explores at high speed, depicted in autumn splendor in Rand’s watercolors. This boisterous tip of the hat toward equality of the sexes is as fit and funny as a family story ought to be. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-15298-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1999

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