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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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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