FIRST, SECOND

Every journey has its logistical problems, but they come peck by drove in this absurdist's delight, penned in the 1930s by the Russian Kharms. A gent steps out one morning, ``singing a song,'' joins up with his friend Pete, then with a ``man no bigger than a jug,'' and another ``so long we couldn't see his feet.'' They proceed, though not before solving the dilemma of their varying gaits. This fast becomes a comedy of cooperation, as the bonhomous characters fashion goofily elegant solutions to each new challenge- -who rides the donkey, how to arrange themselves in boat and car. From the vicissitudes of this modest odyssey, Kharms—in Pevear's translation—conjures a drily humorous story that shrewdly captures the unique pleasures of working through a problem with other, very different, people. Or treat the book purely as a comic episode, a look at the varied permutations and combinations of a fixed set of possibilities, or an open-ended, shaggy-dog version of the theme most recently sighted in Ed Young's Donkey Trouble (1995). Rosenthal's superb illustrations are an irresistible cross- pollination of the Katzenjammer Kids with the daft tricksters found in Zap comics, situated in flat, graphically sophisticated landscapes. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 25, 1996

ISBN: 0-374-32339-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached.

EXTRA YARN

A little girl in a town of white snow and soot-blackened chimneys opens a small box and discovers a never-ending gift of colorful yarn.

Annabelle knits herself a sweater, and with the leftover yarn, she knits one for her dog, and with the yarn left over from that, she knits one for a neighbor and for her classmates and for her teacher and for her family and for the birdhouse and for the buildings in town. All and everything are warm, cozy and colorful until a clotheshorse of an archduke arrives. Annabelle refuses his monetary offers, whereupon the box is stolen. The greedy archduke gets his just deserts when he opens the box to find it empty. It wends its way back to Annabelle, who ends up happily sitting in a knit-covered tree. Klassen, who worked on the film Coraline, uses inks, gouache and colorized scans of a sweater to create a stylized, linear design of dark geometric shapes against a white background. The stitches of the sweaters add a subdued rainbow. Barnett entertained middle-grade readers with his Brixton Brothers detective series. Here, he maintains a folkloric narrative that results in a traditional story arc complete with repetition, drama and a satisfying conclusion.

A quiet story of sharing with no strings attached. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-195338-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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