PISH, POSH, SAID HIERONYMUS BOSCH

Bosch, the late-medieval Dutch artist, painted extraordinary surreal scenes, their whimsical details meticulously depicted. Willard imagines that Bosch's house is crowded with his own fantastical creatures, driving his housekeeper wild with :three- legged thistles asleep in my wash" and a dragon to "wrestle...to get to my sink"; meanwhile, the insouciant Hieronymus gazes abstractedly at the mayhem, palette in hand. The housekeeper flees, only to find that she misses the excitement; fortunately, her trunk contains some of the weird creations, including a "pickle-winged fish" on which she rides home to a loving welcome and the promise of more help—''till death do us part'' (a mellower feminist message than that in Anthony Browne's Piggybook, 1986, and even more imaginative). Willard wraps this gossamer plot in enchantingly musical, comical verse ("In this vale of tears we must take what we're sent,/Feathery, leathery, lovely, or bent"). The Dillons now include son Lee, who provides an elaborate frame sculpted in silver, brass, and bronze for the paintings, to which he also contributed. His bronze figures peer in astonishment at the marvelous action within the frame, painted with a Bosch-like precision and irrepressible invention; additional drawings and a beautifully hand-lettered text also contribute to the lovely, spacious format. Like Bosch's menage, this may not suit quite everyone; but, for those with minds and hearts open to its wit, artistry, and merriment, a rare delight. (Picture book. 4+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-15-262210-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1991

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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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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