ST. JEROME AND THE LION

This medieval legend of the early monk who lived in Bethlehem and translated the Bible into Latin is such a wonderful story that it's surprising it hasn't been retold more often. Like Androcles, Jerome makes friends with a lion by removing a thorn from his paw. The lion stays on, his task to keep watch over the monastery donkey. Then the donkey disappears. The other monks think the lion has eaten it, but Jerome refuses to condemn him; instead, he asks the lion to do the donkey's work. Eventually, the lion finds the donkey and brings it home—together with the camels belonging to the merchants who stole it. The tale's essential harmony shines in Hodges's graceful narrative, Jerome's patient wisdom counterpointed by the quiet interplay among donkey, lion, and a jealous dog that also learns to accept the lion. Moser's elegant design, featuring a taste of exquisite calligraphy and austere rule in brilliant red, provides the perfect setting for his marvelously expressive watercolors: intense portraits of the contemplative saint; beautifully understated night scenes in shades of blue; the awe-inspiring lion, noble, fierce, yet tender. Luminous and altogether splendid. (Folklore/Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-531-05938-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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MORNING GIRL

Like the quiet lap of waves on the sand, the alternating introspections of two Bahamian island children in 1492. Morning Girl and her brother Star Boy are very different: she loves the hush of pre-dawn while he revels in night skies, noise, wind. In many ways they are antagonists, each too young and subjective to understand the other's perspective—in contrast to their mother's appreciation for her brother. In the course of these taut chapters concerning such pivotal events as their mother's losing a child, the arrival of a hurricane, or Star Boy's earning the right to his adult name, they grow closer. In the last, Morning Girl greets— with cordial innocence—a boat full of visitors, unaware that her beautifully balanced and textured life is about to be catalogued as ``very poor in everything,'' her island conquered by Europeans. This paradise is so intensely and believably imagined that the epilogue, quoted from Columbus's diary, sickens with its ominous significance. Subtly, Dorris draws parallels between the timeless chafings of sibs set on changing each other's temperaments and the intrusions of states questing new territory. Saddening, compelling—a novel to be cherished for its compassion and humanity. (Fiction. 8+)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 1992

ISBN: 1-56282-284-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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