MOONBIRD

From the magical land of the silvery bubble-blowing Moonchild, a bubble popping in little Prince Orla’s ear suddenly makes him profoundly deaf. His worried, joyless parents hire several ineffectual fools to restore their son to their hearing world. The most ridiculous looking one is ready to tie elephant-sized ears on the prince’s head. The royal soothsayer understands immediately that the child comprehends the world with his eyes, and the soothsayer is commandingly credible, because he wears magical symbols: star, tree and bird. Graceful Moonbird comes to the rescue, flying the prince to a magical school where a gazelle and silver monkey teach him “eye music,” and tell him he can teach his parents hand talking and silent mouthing. However, his parents are clueless until Moonchild blows an enormous bubble that bursts over their kingdom, changing their intricate yet barren landscape and their hearts. Ray’s luminous art and lyrical text are heavy with symbolism: Those who understand sign language and the powers of observation are adorned in the most silver trees, birds and stars, and others find adornment as they learn. Young readers will understand with help the clear message that sign language education for children who are deaf is essential to their healthy growth, and that it is a tremendous step forward for all people to increase their observation skills to learn it. But this heavy, controversial message won’t be swallowed easily. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-60589-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Doubleday UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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THE MONSTER WHO ATE DARKNESS

Though bedroom monsters are a dime a dozen, this one’s a bit different. Looking like a black wombat with a bright-red clown nose, the Creature that lurks under wakeful young Jo-Jo’s bed is but the size of an ant. A hungry one, however, who starts absorbing all the darkness it can find. Going the “Fat Cat” route, the monster proceeds to swell as it sucks the dark not just from the bedroom but from the entire world and beyond—leaving confusion and dismay in its wake, until “There were no shadows and hardly any dreams. There was only the light. The stark and staring light.” Liao, a popular Taiwanese illustrator, creates polished, sometimes wordless cartoon scenes featuring a monster whose only scary characteristic is its eventual humongous size. Ultimately Jo-Jo’s tears draw the behemoth back to Earth, where a cuddle and a “darkness lullaby” puts them both to sleep and allows all the darkness to leach back into the universe. Not exactly entropy in action, but a cozy, if lengthy, bedtime tale nonetheless. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7636-3859-7

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2008

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Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages.

FROG AND BALL

From the I Like To Read Comics series

Never underestimate the chaotic fun that magic and an angry bouncing ball can create.

When Frog goes to the library, he borrows a book on magic. He then heads to a nearby park to read up on the skills necessary to becoming “a great magician.” Suddenly, a deflated yellow ball lands with a “Thud!” at his feet. Although he flexes his new magician muscles, Frog’s spells fall as flat as the ball. But when Frog shouts “Phooey!” and kicks the ball away, it inflates to become a big, angry ball. The ball begins to chase Frog, so he seeks shelter in the library—and Frog and ball turn the library’s usual calm into chaos. The cartoon chase crescendos. The ball bounces into the middle of a game of chess, interrupts a puppet show, and crashes into walls and bookcases. Staying just one bounce ahead, Frog runs, hides, grabs a ride on a book cart, and scatters books and papers as he slides across the library furniture before an alligator patron catches the ball and kicks it out the library door. But that’s not the end of the ball….Caple’s tidy panels and pastel-hued cartoons make a surprisingly effective setting for the slapstick, which should have young readers giggling. Simple sentences—often just subject and verb—with lots of repetition propel the action. Frog’s nonsense-word spells (“Poof Wiffle, Bop Bip!”) are both funny and excellent practice in phonetics. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Fast and furious action guaranteed to keep new readers laughing and turning pages. (Graphic early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4341-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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