THE GIFT OF THE CROCODILE

A CINDERELLA STORY

A reptilian “fairy godmother” provides more than fine clothing for this Indonesian Cinderella. Beguiled by a widowed neighbor’s gift, young Damura persuades her father to remarry. Subsequently forced into servitude, her distress draws an ancient crocodile—who, because she behaves with proper respect, not only furnishes her with lovely sarongs, but brings her back to life after her stepmother and stepsister feed her to another crocodile. Ruffins (Running the Road to ABC, 1996, Coretta Scott King Honor) sets long-limbed, colorfully clad figures into bright, open tropical settings, ably capturing Damura’s sadness, her stepsister’s disagreeable nature, even the crocodile’s solicitude with clearly drawn expressions and body language. Sierra tells the tale simply and fluidly, closing with a note on her source (a Dutch collection of Spice Island folktales), and on Cinderella tales in general. The story itself follows a familiar track, even to the lost slipper, but the exotic setting, plus several humorous touches, set it apart from the rest of this year’s crowd. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-82188-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2000

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Useful for discussions about women’s rights and political influence.

MISS PAUL AND THE PRESIDENT

THE CREATIVE CAMPAIGN FOR WOMEN'S RIGHT TO VOTE

In time for the national elections, the story of an ardent early-20th-century fighter for women’s suffrage.

Alice Paul was deeply committed to women’s voting rights, a passion inflamed in her youth when she witnessed her father but not her mother going to the polls. Reading in the Constitution that elections were open only to men, she schooled herself about suffrage and eventually joined the burgeoning movement. She organized parades, letter-writing campaigns, and White House protests, though her efforts failed initially. One attention-getting accomplishment was to steal Woodrow Wilson’s thunder when the newly elected president arrived at a Washington, D.C., train station expecting cheering crowds. Instead, the throngs were attending—some jeering at—a nearby parade Paul had organized. Even a meeting this nervy woman initiated with the president aroused little sympathy. The arrest of Paul and other suffragists during a protest—and strong support from the president’s daughter—finally convinced Wilson to urge Congress to pass a law granting women the vote. The simple narrative ably explains and arouses respect for Paul’s ardor and achievements. The cheery, cartoony illustrations, created in watercolor, colored pencil, and other media, show a generally smiling, white Paul in her signature floppy purple hat. Endpapers feature illustrated newspaper headlines that set events in context. Readers may regret the absence of a glossary.

Useful for discussions about women’s rights and political influence. (author’s note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93720-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Less stylish than Ed Young’s classic Seven Blind Mice but a serviceable rendition nonetheless.

ELEPHANT IN THE DARK

An Iranian-American author recasts an anecdote from the Persian poet Rumi, itself based on a far older tale about perceiving parts of a truth rather than its whole.

Javaherbin adds characters and plot to the bare-bones original and reduces Rumi’s lengthy mystical exegesis to a line. So curious are local villagers about the strange beast Ahmad the merchant has brought from India that they sneak into the dark barn where the creature is kept. Each returns with a different impression: one trips over the animal’s nose and announces that it’s like a snake, but it is more like a tree to one who feels its leg, and so on. Their squabble is so intense that they don’t even notice when Ahmad arrives to lead the elephant out to the river—leaving each with “only a small piece of the truth.” Yelchin outfits the villagers in curly-toed slippers and loose, brightly patterned caftans. He also puts a nifty spin on the story by leaving the adults to argue obliviously but surrounding the elephant at the wordless end with smiling, plainly clearer-eyed children. Though the language is bland, the wildly gesticulating figures in the illustrations add a theatrical element, and the episode makes its points in a forthright way. An excellent source note traces the familiar tale back to its earliest versions.

Less stylish than Ed Young’s classic Seven Blind Mice but a serviceable rendition nonetheless. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-545-63670-4

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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