The Tsengs' watercolors range from exotically colorful to murkily mysterious, with the characters' expressions and poses...

THE BOY WHO SWALLOWED SNAKES

Puzzlingly described as an "original folktale" (LC classifies it in 398.2), the bizarre story of Little Chou, a poor Chinese boy who finds, hidden in a basket of silver, an evil ku snake that kills people and takes their money to its master.

When the snake proves indestructible, Little Chou swallows it in hopes of being rid of its evil, but that night a mysterious light emanating from his stomach becomes two ku snakes, which he also resolutely eats. The next night there are fifty dancing, luminous snakes, then a hundred, and finally so many that it appears that "the stars had fallen from the sky and emptied into the courtyard." When the greedy master of the original ku snake comes to reclaim his abandoned "pet," Little Chou tricks him into eating it and the man dies horribly. Good and evil receive their just deserts in this cautionary tale, but the snakes are a grotesquely ambiguous symbol, described as lethal yet also beautiful and almost innocently playful (in the end, Little Chou actually misses the creatures he's been at such pains to destroy). Further, the story's logic collapses at a crucial juncture: why, if the rich man was so fearful of the ku snake that he tried to get rid of it, would he wish to reclaim it when it had multiplied a thousandfold?

The Tsengs' watercolors range from exotically colorful to murkily mysterious, with the characters' expressions and poses dramatically exaggerated. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-590-46168-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1994

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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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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