THE RED HEELS

This original tale from San Souci (Kate Shelley, 1995, etc.), based on a colonial New England legend, makes a richly imagined and tenderly evocative love story. A traveling cobbler, Jonathan Dowse, comes to the home of Rebecca Wyse. She asks him to make new shoes for her, using the fancy red heels of an old pair that belonged to her mother and grandmother. Jonathan feels fear, for red heels are the sign of a witch. Spying on Rebecca that night, he finds ``her secret delight''—she dances on the moonlit pond. She sees him, and he dances, too; it becomes their nightly habit. Despite their growing mutual attachment, he feels he must go on to establish his own store. The next autumn Rebecca appears there and asks him to attach new shoes, suitable for a ``goodwife,'' to the red heels, for she can no longer dance without him. She ends up with two pairs—``One sturdy enough for the day's work; one airy enough for the night''- -and Jonathan has also made a dancing pair for himself. The couple wed, and flourish, and, occasionally, dance. The muted autumnal colors of Kelley's pastel illustrations make a fine foil for the unforced depths of this lovely tale: San Souci respects and rejoices in the workaday and magical dualities of life and love. What an extraordinary gift for young readers: a romance that hints at the real complexity of adult love without sentimentality, coyness, or sexism. (Picture book/folklore. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1134-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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