SUN DANCE WATER DANCE

Luminous art and a lyrical text capture the joys of an incandescent country summer day from bright morning to dusky evening. London (Froggy Eats Out, p. 414, etc.) rapturously begins, “We play in the sun / like a dance / dally in the brilliance / of heat / radiating / off our shining bodies.” His short, singing phrases, some rhyming, some alliterative, completely capture the brief attention span of vacation activities. In the first double-paged spread, Couch (I Know the Moon, p. 50, etc.) expresses the children’s heat-induced elation with a huge shimmering sun covering two-thirds of the pages, sending rays spilling down on the exuberant silhouettes of leaping children. The words and art of these masters elevate the ordinary pleasures of summer—swimming, sunbathing, skipping rocks, catching lizards, watching the night sky—to a hymn. Radiant watercolor and pencil illuminate the “ . . . feel / the chill ripple / down our spines . . . ” with the cool bright green-blue of swirling refreshing water. Bold geometric shapes of swimsuits, solid and translucent, contrast with the natural life of water plants that reach up with flowing, quivering tentacles. Notable is Couch’s freedom with color and line focusing on details such as purple-shadowed feet tip-toeing over zigzagged stones “ . . . the sharp bite / of rocks / like arrowheads . . . ” or a cross-section of young bodies with a drink flowing “ice cold down gullet / Ahhhhhh!” Clever layout particularly shines on the darkening blues of the spread “when the light / fades / and the first star . . . ” The word “star,” with its typeface set in white mirrors, is a lone, tiny, white, five-pointed star placed in the evening sky. A standout. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-525-46682-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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LAST DAY BLUES

From the Mrs. Hartwell's Classroom Adventures series

One more myth dispelled for all the students who believe that their teachers live in their classrooms. During the last week of school, Mrs. Hartwell and her students reflect on the things they will miss, while also looking forward to the fun that summer will bring. The kids want to cheer up their teacher, whom they imagine will be crying over lesson plans and missing them all summer long. But what gift will cheer her up? Numerous ideas are rejected, until Eddie comes up with the perfect plan. They all cooperate to create a rhyming ode to the school year and their teacher. Love’s renderings of the children are realistic, portraying the diversity of modern-day classrooms, from dress and expression to gender and skin color. She perfectly captures the emotional trauma the students imagine their teachers will go through as they leave for the summer. Her final illustration hysterically shatters that myth, and will have every teacher cheering aloud. What a perfect end to the school year. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2006

ISBN: 1-58089-046-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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