THE LAST TALES OF UNCLE REMUS

The fourth volume of a landmark retelling completes the roster, with Lester's witty contemporary voice ("I reckon I should push the pause button on this story 'cause you want to know how the axe could see her coming," or, "she did the laundry and...the colored clothes stood up and started singing a commercial") still serving the original tales' subversive humor with splendid originality.

In a quiet, well-reasoned introductory essay on why he kept the name "Uncle Remus," Lester points out that "without the distinctive voice of the narrator, the stories would not have endured," though, ironically, "Harris's Uncle Remus also represents...the servile 'darky.' " Still, "this should not blind us to his contribution or cause us to withdraw respect from him. Each of us is as complex and contradictory, and that is the beauty of being human." Some of the 39 stories here are less familiar than those in the earlier volumes, but no less entertaining when rendered in Lester's companionable style (from delightful description—"He ran away from there so fast, his shadow had to hitchhike home''—to sharp commentary—"When a man looks at the world through hungry eyes, everything looks good to eat"; quoting is seductive). Again, variants of other tales (e.g., Richard Chase's) make for interesting contrasts, and Pinkney provides several handsome color spreads (seen), plus dozens of drawings (not seen).

Essential. (Folklore. 7+)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-8037-1303-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating...

FRINDLE

Nicholas is a bright boy who likes to make trouble at school, creatively. 

When he decides to torment his fifth-grade English teacher, Mrs. Granger (who is just as smart as he is), by getting everyone in the class to replace the word "pen'' with "frindle,'' he unleashes a series of events that rapidly spins out of control. If there's any justice in the world, Clements (Temple Cat, 1995, etc.) may have something of a classic on his hands. By turns amusing and adroit, this first novel is also utterly satisfying. The chess-like sparring between the gifted Nicholas and his crafty teacher is enthralling, while Mrs. Granger is that rarest of the breed: a teacher the children fear and complain about for the school year, and love and respect forever after. 

With comically realistic black-and-white illustrations by Selznick (The Robot King, 1995, etc.), this is a captivating tale—one to press upon children, and one they'll be passing among themselves. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-689-80669-8

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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DONAVAN'S WORD JAR

Donavan's friends collect buttons and marbles, but he collects words. ``NUTRITION,'' ``BALLYHOO,'' ``ABRACADABRA''—these and other words are safely stored on slips of paper in a jar. As it fills, Donavan sees a storage problem developing and, after soliciting advice from his teacher and family, solves it himself: Visiting his grandma at a senior citizens' apartment house, he settles a tenants' argument by pulling the word ``COMPROMISE'' from his jar and, feeling ``as if the sun had come out inside him,'' discovers the satisfaction of giving his words away. Appealingly detailed b&w illustrations depict Donavan and his grandma as African-Americans. This Baltimore librarian's first book is sure to whet readers' appetites for words, and may even start them on their own savory collections. (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: June 30, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-020190-8

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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