CINDERELLA SKELETON

This fancy little piece of septet versifying works nicely as a vehicle to tell the story of the graveyard Cinderella. San Souci (Callie Ann and Mistah Bear, p. 1045, etc.) follows the original tale quite closely, substituting things from the bone orchard where appropriate: her coach is a hearse; the prince is named Charnel; her stepfamily is Skreech, Gristlene, and Bony-Jane; and, of course, she herself is a skeleton. Instead of simply losing her slipper at the ball, this Cinderella has her lower tibia snapped off. (Picture the prince traveling everywhere with the foot in a velvet case.) Yes, there are touches of the macabre here (each prospective bride pulls her own foot off to try on Cinderella’s), but never overmuch or to the point of terrifying. And most of it is hysterically funny. San Souci’s verse ultimately takes the show: “Cinderella Skeleton! / The rarest gem the world has seen! / Your gleaming skull and burnished bones, / Your teeth like polished kidney stones, / Your dampish silks and dankish hair, / There’s nothing like you anywhere! / You make each day a Halloween.” What a picture she makes. Catrow’s (The Fungus That Ate My School, p. 474, etc.) artwork is reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas—perhaps that can’t be helped when skeletons are the principals—but very much its own thing, with abundant cartoony comic licks and ghoulish creatures galore. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-15-202003-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2000

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Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children.

THE NIGHT IS YOURS

On hot summer nights, Amani’s parents permit her to go outside and play in the apartment courtyard, where the breeze is cool and her friends are waiting.

The children jump rope to the sounds of music as it floats through a neighbor’s window, gaze at stars in the night sky, and play hide-and-seek in the moonlight. It is in the moonlight that Amani and her friends are themselves found by the moon, and it illumines the many shades of their skin, which vary from light tan to deep brown. In a world where darkness often evokes ideas of evil or fear, this book is a celebration of things that are dark and beautiful—like a child’s dark skin and the night in which she plays. The lines “Show everyone else how to embrace the night like you. Teach them how to be a night-owning girl like you” are as much an appeal for her to love and appreciate her dark skin as they are the exhortation for Amani to enjoy the night. There is a sense of security that flows throughout this book. The courtyard is safe and homelike. The moon, like an additional parent, seems to be watching the children from the sky. The charming full-bleed illustrations, done in washes of mostly deep blues and greens, make this a wonderful bedtime story.

Vital messages of self-love for darker-skinned children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55271-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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For Berkner’s fans; there are much better books about children visiting imaginative lands.

PILLOWLAND

Berkner’s children’s song gets the picture-book treatment with illustrations from Garoche.

What kid hasn’t made a massive pillow fort and imagined all sorts of adventures? Well, Berkner’s premise is that there is a land where everything is made of pillows, and three lucky children get to visit there. (They appear to be siblings, perhaps a blended family: Mom and one girl are black; Dad, one boy, and one girl are white.) The illustrations transition between depictions of obvious imaginative play in a bedroom to a fantasy world and back again at the end, when the parents peek in at the three asleep. Garoche’s art consists of photos of papercut artwork arranged in dioramas with some Photoshop details. Reminiscent of Michael Garland’s work (though more pastel in color) or that of Elly McKay (though less ethereal), the illustrations are a mixed bag, with layers and hard edges juxtaposed against all the pillows. The king and queen of the song are obviously stand-ins for the parents. Children who know the tune may not sit still for a reading, while those who don’t may wonder at the repeated refrain.

For Berkner’s fans; there are much better books about children visiting imaginative lands. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-6467-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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