SUKEY AND THE MERMAID

Weary of the unreasonable demands of Mister Jones, her new stepfather, Sukey escapes to the water's edge, where she meets ``a beautiful, brown-skinned, black-eyed mermaid''—Mama Jo—who befriends and comforts her and each day gives her a gold coin. Mister Jones drinks up most of the money; eventually, he tries to capture the mermaid, who escapes and takes Sukey to her undersea kingdom. Homesick, Sukey bargains for a chance to go home and is also given a dowry and the promise of a fine husband, to be named Dembo. Wicked Mister Jones steals the dowry and kills Dembo; but Mama Jo appears one last time to bring him back to life. A careful note explains that this eventful, richly complex story was based on a folktale from the Sea Islands of South Carolina, as well as on Caribbean and West African sources. Pinkney's delicately tinted scratchboard illustrations are his best yet; the many fine lines swirl through the dramatic black ground, catching the sea's luminous glow and softening the sturdy figures with diaphanous garments. An unusually handsome presentation of an appealing tale. (Folklore/Picture book. 5-10)

Pub Date: March 31, 1992

ISBN: 0-02-778141-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Four Winds/MacMillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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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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HELLO, HARVEST MOON

As atmospheric as its companion, Twilight Comes Twice, this tone poem pairs poetically intense writing with luminescent oils featuring widely spaced houses, open lawns, and clumps of autumnal trees, all lit by a huge full moon. Fletcher tracks that moon’s nocturnal path in language rich in metaphor: “With silent slippers / it climbs the night stairs,” “staining earth and sky with a ghostly glow,” lighting up a child’s bedroom, the wings of a small plane, moonflowers, and, ranging further afield, harbor waves and the shells of turtle hatchlings on a beach. Using creamy brushwork and subtly muted colors, Kiesler depicts each landscape, each night creature from Luna moths to a sleepless child and her cat, as well as the great moon sweeping across star-flecked skies, from varied but never vertiginous angles. Closing with moonset, as dawn illuminates the world with a different kind of light, this makes peaceful reading either in season, or on any moonlit night. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2003

ISBN: 0-618-16451-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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