OWEN AND THE MOUNTAIN

Atmospheric illustrations compensate, at least in part, for pedestrian prose in this metaphor-rich import. On a parent-less visit to Grandad’s isolated cottage, young Owen sees the mountain towering overhead, and wants to climb it. At first, Grandad says he’s too old, and Owen too young; he relents the next day and off they hie up the winding path, followed by a very old dog. Greenfield artfully captures the initial uncertainty on Grandad’s face, then goes on to depict the climbers passing wonderfully gnarled trees, alert wildlife, and a widening green landscape that sometimes itself seems ready to rise on giant feet and follow. In telling the tale, Doyle (Sleepy Pendoodle, see below, etc.) tries for powerful simplicity, but mostly sounds stiff: “Owen looked all around, and he was frightened. He looked down and saw Grandad, trudging up behind him, and he was glad.” After achieving their goal—anticlimactically: “At last, together, they reached the summit of the great mountain”—the two make their way wearily back, and finish the day sharing a cozy armchair before the fireplace. Greenfield’s misty hills may inspire long thoughts, but Doyle is a better storyteller than this effort shows. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7475-5093-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Bloomsbury UK/Trafalgar

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TEA WITH MILK

In describing how his parents met, Say continues to explore the ways that differing cultures can harmonize; raised near San Francisco and known as May everywhere except at home, where she is Masako, the child who will grow up to be Say’s mother becomes a misfit when her family moves back to Japan. Rebelling against attempts to force her into the mold of a traditional Japanese woman, she leaves for Osaka, finds work as a department store translator, and meets Joseph, a Chinese businessman who not only speaks English, but prefers tea with milk and sugar, and persuades her that “home isn’t a place or a building that’s ready-made or waiting for you, in America or anywhere else.” Painted with characteristic control and restraint, Say’s illustrations, largely portraits, begin with a sepia view of a sullen child in a kimono, gradually take on distinct, subdued color, and end with a formal shot of the smiling young couple in Western dress. A stately cousin to Ina R. Friedman’s How My Parents Learned To Eat (1984), also illustrated by Say. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-90495-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more