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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Definitely add this to the mix to create interested world citizens.

THE BAREFOOT BOOK OF CHILDREN

A book to engage children in thinking about their peers the world over.

The simple text declares children’s needs and wants (homes, families, play, work, food, water) and then asks readers to think about their own lives in comparison to those depicted. Religion and beliefs are mentioned in universal ways: “Some people worship. Some people pray. Some meditate. Some like quiet time to think. Some people prefer to take life as it comes.” The glowing acrylic double-page spreads employ different layouts to add visual interest. Many small vignettes—in circles, rectangles, triangles, even drops of water—depict children from different cultures doing similar activities. Occasionally there is a large painting, such as the one about languages and communication set in a railway station, with speech bubbles indicating many languages. The translations are included in several pages of backmatter that provide further information about each spread, vital to taking this book beyond its initial first look at global diversity. Though the book omits mention of the wars (there are parents shown in uniform) and refugee situations that children face in some places, this volume should be dipped into again and again, as children are able to absorb more details. Readers may find themselves consulting a separate map, as the one included lacks sufficient detail.

Definitely add this to the mix to create interested world citizens. (Informational picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-78285-296-4

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Barefoot Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A fine first introduction to an age-old tale of travel, adventure, and heroism.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS

Murder, intrigue, betrayal, patricide, regicide, and more constitute Jason’s epic quest for the Golden Fleece.

Like most Greek myths, Jason’s journey to complete a near-impossible task unfolds through an episodic plot in which the gods interfere with the mortals constantly—for good or ill. When Jason’s evil uncle, Pelias, usurps the throne of his father, Aeson, king of Iolcus, Jason’s mother wisely sends him to the forest to be raised by Chiron the centaur. Upon Jason’s return to Iolcus to defeat Pelias, Hera, wife of Zeus, appears to him and promises her guidance and protection, which she delivers throughout his journey. Pelias refuses to relinquish the throne unless Jason brings him the Golden Fleece (the background story of which Byrd also includes in this volume). Jason then gathers the finest Greek men, commissions the Argo, and embarks upon a journey with colossal challenges. Byrd eases navigation of this text-heavy picture book by illustrating the unimaginable, such as bronze-beaked Stymphalian birds with dart-shooting feathers and Scylla, part hag, part fish, with six fanged dog’s heads protruding from her torso. Each double-page spread constitutes a chapter, making for good-sized chunks for episodic read-alouds. Sidebars give brief background on characters, the backmatter introduces the Olympians, and front and back endpapers show maps of Jason’s route.

A fine first introduction to an age-old tale of travel, adventure, and heroism. (Mythology. 6-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4118-8

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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