THE SONG

The difference pictures of a certain kind make to a text is graphically demonstrated here. Accompanying the song of a little bird "inside" Sarah—through summer, fall, and winter, and into the next spring—are not moody evocations but poster-like crystallizations, in the nursery-mode of the late-Twenties/early-Thirties, but with reflections of a latter-day sensibility in the space-filling composition and (sometimes) stagey design. The merest snatch of text brings an emblematic, frame-able picture—as when we see, with "The little bird sang all winter," a fat rabbit hunched down in the snow, and two smaller rabbits snuggled in an underground nest. Meanwhile, just winging into sight, is the little bird—who somehow turns up in picture after picture, even as his song is always inside Sarah's head. What he is singing is a song of the seasons—"of snowflakes and frosty windows and the sting of the wind"; "of silky new grass and the smell of wet earth"—which Sarah's parents can't hear; and then, in the spring, she meets a friend who hears the song too. With the strongly realized pictures, the melodious text becomes, indeed, a sort of background melody—which is one perfectly valid way for youngsters to take in a picture book. It's a safe bet, too, that they'll remember Tufari's decorative patterns and embellishments as what the song was all about.

Pub Date: April 1, 1982

ISBN: 0688008178

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1982

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More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves

MAYBE

A young child explores the unlimited potential inherent in all humans.

“Have you ever wondered why you are here?” asks the second-person narration. There is no one like you. Maybe you’re here to make a difference with your uniqueness; maybe you will speak for those who can’t or use your gifts to shine a light into the darkness. The no-frills, unrhymed narrative encourages readers to follow their hearts and tap into their limitless potential to be anything and do anything. The precisely inked and colored artwork plays with perspective from the first double-page spread, in which the child contemplates a mountain (or maybe an iceberg) in their hands. Later, they stand on a ladder to place white spots on tall, red mushrooms. The oversized flora and fauna seem to symbolize the presumptively insurmountable, reinforcing the book’s message that anything is possible. This quiet read, with its sophisticated central question, encourages children to reach for their untapped potential while reminding them it won’t be easy—they will make messes and mistakes—but the magic within can help overcome falls and failures. It’s unlikely that members of the intended audience have begun to wonder about their life’s purpose, but this life-affirming mood piece has honorable intentions. The child, accompanied by an adorable piglet and sporting overalls and a bird-beaked cap made of leaves, presents white.

More gift book than storybook, this is a meaningful addition to nursery bookshelves . (Picture book. 2-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-946873-75-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

With the same delightfully irreverent spirit that he brought to his retelling of "Little Red Riding Hood" (1987), Marshall enlivens another favorite. Although completely retold with his usual pungent wit and contemporary touches ("I don't mind if I do," says Goldilocks, as she tries out porridge, chair, and bed), Marshall retains the stories well-loved pattern, including Goldilocks escaping through the window (whereupon Baby Bear inquires, "Who was that little girl?"). The illustrations are fraught with delicious humor and detail: books that are stacked everywhere around the rather cluttered house, including some used in lieu of a missing leg for Papa Bear's chair; comically exaggerated beds—much too high at the head and the foot; and Baby Bear's wonderfully messy room, which certainly brings the story into the 20th century. Like its predecessor, perfect for several uses, from picture-book hour to beginning reading.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1988

ISBN: 0140563660

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1988

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