FIRST PALM TREES

AN ANANCY SPIDERMAN STORY

A prophet sees a vision of palm trees in a dream, and the king offers a great reward to anyone who can make them appear. Anancy Spiderman sees his opportunity, and goes to ask Sun-Spirit to make the palm trees. Sun-Spirit is succinct: ``My work makes other works work. And other works make my work also work.'' He sends Anancy off to plead with Water-Spirit, Earth-Spirit, and Air-Spirit; each requires the others. Anancy isn't happy about sharing the reward, but figures he can get out of it later. The king rewards them all with a banquet. The rich illustrations in acrylic, pencil, and washes use kente-cloth patterns and areas bleached or misted over to great effect. The figure of Anancy himself is done with a wonderful conceit: His spidery aspects are hinted at by his long legs, arms, and flying robes, and multiple eyes are suggested by sunglasses, round glasses, and reading glasses worn all at once. Berry (Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird, 1996, etc.) uses a lovely West Indian lilt that sometimes lapses—``Earth-Spirit looked like a beautifully rounded pile of black, brown, and white diamonds''—but otherwise fully enlists readers with its rhythm and repetition. A rollicking, original read-aloud. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-689-81060-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1997

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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...

STINK AND THE MIDNIGHT ZOMBIE WALK

From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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