VICTOR AND CHRISTABEL

Another offbeat love story from the author of Sophie and Lou (1991). Victor, a crocodile, is a guard in a quiet museum where the newest painting is Cousin Christabel on Her Sickbed (a composition inspired by a Renaissance painting of St. Ursula). Haunted by Christabel's sad expression, Victor brings her flowers and pines for her on his day off. The second chapter flashes back to the arrival, uninvited, of Christabel's cousin Anatole, an ungrateful wizard who orders her about like a servant and—when she finally rebels—utters a spell that imprisons her in a painting. In the end, Victor's regard—or perhaps the steam from his tea, which Christabel also enjoys—undoes the enchantment and all ends in bliss. Mathers's subtly honed narrative has an engaging warmth and wry humor; once again, her elegant compositions and vibrant, sophisticated colors will garner adult attention while kids delight in the toothily expressive crocs and quizzical details—and in contrasting this creative update with ``The Sleeping Beauty.'' (Picture book. 4-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-83060-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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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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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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