CROOKJAW

This fanciful story has its roots in New England whaling lore, from a time when witches were thought to inhabit the bellies of the more vicious whales. As Cohen (Pigeon, Pigeon, 1992, etc.) tells it, Ichabod, a whaler of world-renown, runs up against the fabled whale, Crookjaw. After being flummoxed by the beast, Ichabod plunges down the whale's throat in response to a siren call and falls quickly under the spell of the witch therein. Ichabod's wife, Smilinda, takes to the sea to find her man, sizes up the situation, returns home to fashion a harpoon of silver (the only element capable of turning a witch to wood), and rows back to Ichabod, where they dispatch the witch. The focus is at first on the hero and then the heroine (whom Ichabod seems to have married when he was ten)—canny, resourceful Smilinda, the only character who really comes to life. With so much going on in so few words, the story never develops dramatic tension, and at one point the New England ambience dissipates due to Southern-sounding dialogue: ``That ain't no way to keep your britches dry,'' ``Git aloft,'' ``Jumpin' tadpoles!,'' and ``Lookie here.'' In her first picture book, Bronson's accomplished oil paintings recall Stefano Vitale's work, although Bronson takes more license with perspectives and is not entirely keyed in to the text: Crookjaw's mouth is fairly symmetrical in appearance, even with its complement of snaggled teeth. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-8050-5300-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1997

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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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THE GIRL WHO LOVED WILD HORSES

            There are many parallel legends – the seal women, for example, with their strange sad longings – but none is more direct than this American Indian story of a girl who is carried away in a horses’ stampede…to ride thenceforth by the side of a beautiful stallion who leads the wild horses.  The girl had always loved horses, and seemed to understand them “in a special way”; a year after her disappearance her people find her riding beside the stallion, calf in tow, and take her home despite his strong resistance.  But she is unhappy and returns to the stallion; after that, a beautiful mare is seen riding always beside him.  Goble tells the story soberly, allowing it to settle, to find its own level.  The illustrations are in the familiar striking Goble style, but softened out here and there with masses of flowers and foliage – suitable perhaps for the switch in subject matter from war to love, but we miss the spanking clean design of Custer’s Last Battle and The Fetterman Fight.          6-7

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1978

ISBN: 0689845049

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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