CLIFF HANGER

A disappointing effort from this well-respected pair. Headstrong young Axel defies his father and faces down an impending storm and a challenging climb up what appears to be a sheer rock face to rescue his stranded little dog. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the tension of the text is not well reflected in the illustrations, in which characters resemble plastic action figures, with smooth, molded, pink legs, hands forever frozen in a semi-cupped position, and feet eternally encased in painted-on shoes. Perhaps the lightning-lit images are meant to evoke the stop-frame staccato of a violent storm, but the bone-dry condition of the climb, the fine, fluffy fur of the dog, and their sun-soaked descent on Cathedral Wall would seem to contradict this. Unlikely, too, is the inaction of Axel’s father, Dag, the leader of the Teton Mountains Climbing School and presumably an expert on the pleasures and perils of climbing. Why would an experienced, responsible climber and loving father allow his son to ignore his safe, alternative plan to reach the dog? No explanatory matter is offered to describe or depict the climbing equipment and terminology that figure large in following the storyline, and the illustrations do not make them obvious. With this team and this title, the reader anticipates fine, high adventure and painterly interpretations of environment. Despite its lightweight treatment of what could have been a compelling story, dog-lovers, weather-watchers, and budding adventurers may appreciate this additional purchase. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-000260-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound.

HOW TO CATCH A GINGERBREAD MAN

From the How To Catch… series

The titular cookie runs off the page at a bookstore storytime, pursued by young listeners and literary characters.

Following on 13 previous How To Catch… escapades, Wallace supplies sometimes-tortured doggerel and Elkerton, a set of helter-skelter cartoon scenes. Here the insouciant narrator scampers through aisles, avoiding a series of elaborate snares set by the racially diverse young storytime audience with help from some classic figures: “Alice and her mad-hat friends, / as a gift for my unbirthday, / helped guide me through the walls of shelves— / now I’m bound to find my way.” The literary helpers don’t look like their conventional or Disney counterparts in the illustrations, but all are clearly identified by at least a broad hint or visual cue, like the unnamed “wizard” who swoops in on a broom to knock over a tower labeled “Frogwarts.” Along with playing a bit fast and loose with details (“Perhaps the boy with the magic beans / saved me with his cow…”) the author discards his original’s lip-smacking climax to have the errant snack circling back at last to his book for a comfier sort of happily-ever-after.

A brisk if bland offering for series fans, but cleverer metafictive romps abound. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-7282-0935-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

PINK AND SAY

A white youth from Ohio, Sheldon Russell Curtis (Say), and a black youth from Georgia, Pinkus Aylee (Pink), meet as young soldiers with the Union army. Pink finds Say wounded in the leg after a battle and brings him home with him. Pink's mother, Moe Moe Bay, cares for the boys while Say recuperates, feeding and comforting them and banishing the war for a time. Whereas Pink is eager to go back and fight against "the sickness" that is slavery, Say is afraid to return to his unit. But when he sees Moe Moe Bay die at the hands of marauders, he understands the need to return. Pink and Say are captured by Confederate soldiers and brought to the notorious Andersonville prison camp. Say is released months later, ill and undernourished, but Pink is never released, and Polacco reports that he was hanged that very first day because he was black. Polacco (Babushka Baba Yaga, 1993, etc; My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, above) tells this story, which was passed down for generations in her family (Say was her great-great-grandfather), carefully and without melodrama so that it speaks for itself. The stunning illustrations — reminiscent of the German expressionist Egon Shiele in their use of color and form — are completely heartbreaking. A spectacular achievement. (Nonfiction/Picture book. 4- 8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1994

ISBN: 0-399-22671-0

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more