GRANDMOTHER'S PIGEON

In her first picture book, a much-praised novelist tips the delicate balance between the fanciful and more realistic aspects of storytelling until the tale almost disintegrates into whimsy. In Grandmother's cluttered bedroom, undisturbed ever since she disappeared a year ago on the back of a porpoise (ostensibly headed for Greenland), three bird's eggs inexplicably hatch and are identified as passenger pigeons, long thought to be extinct. Their existence causes a scientific and media sensation, but they are languishing in the cage, so the children release them, with messages attached to their legs. Some while later, they receive their first communication from their missing grandmother, whom they have mourned as lost forever, thanking them for their messages and promising to return soon. The point of all this may be that "nature is both tough and fragile," as an ornithologist describes the lesson of the passenger pigeon's extinction, or it may have something to do with the folly of examining miracles too closely. LaMarche (illustrator of Laura Melmed's The Rainbabies) anchors the story with his highly realistic acrylic and colored pencil illustrations that showcase his gift for homely, telling details: the apple core among the clutter on a young boy's bedroom shelf or the chipped polish on a small girl's grubby nails. A lyrical, if somewhat obscure, tale. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 15, 1996

ISBN: 0-7868-0165-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1996

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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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IGGY PECK, ARCHITECT

A repressive teacher almost ruins second grade for a prodigy in this amusing, if overwritten, tale. Having shown a fascination with great buildings since constructing a model of the Leaning Tower of Pisa from used diapers at age two, Iggy sinks into boredom after Miss Greer announces, throwing an armload of histories and craft projects into the trash, that architecture will be a taboo subject in her class. Happily, she changes her views when the collapse of a footbridge leaves the picnicking class stranded on an island, whereupon Iggy enlists his mates to build a suspension bridge from string, rulers and fruit roll-ups. Familiar buildings and other structures, made with unusual materials or, on the closing pages, drawn on graph paper, decorate Roberts’s faintly retro cartoon illustrations. They add an audience-broadening element of sophistication—as would Beaty’s decision to cast the text into verse, if it did not result in such lines as “After twelve long days / that passed in a haze / of reading, writing and arithmetic, / Miss Greer took the class / to Blue River Pass / for a hike and an old-fashioned picnic.” Another John Lithgow she is not, nor is Iggy another Remarkable Farkle McBride (2000), but it’s always salutary to see young talent vindicated. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-8109-1106-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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