Wells spins out an original tale loosely based on local legends from a small town in southern France. Caught by a sudden tide, two young friends, both named “Marie,” ascend to heaven, where one convinces God to allow them to return to Earth for a time to care for neighbors and loved ones. Rowing upon clouds in their small boat, the two cure one sick child, help rescue another from a well, calm a team of horses and other small good deeds—all of which are actually recorded in paintings in the town’s church. Bright smiles on their delicately drawn features, the two Maries float through rustic scenes of pink flamingoes and peach trees in blossom, of rainbows and fields of lavender—all of which is based on Mathers’s visit to the area. Narrated in a distinct, cheery voice by one Marie, this is a much simplified version of the traditional story (for one thing, there are three Maries associated with the locale), but its sweetness will draw young readers, particularly fans of Tomie dePaola’s retold saints’ legends. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-670-05960-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2006

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As the Great Northern chugs its way to St. Paul, past fields “stitched together / in brown and yellow patches, / like Grandma’s quilt spread over the hills,” a lone child in her Sunday Best gazes happily out the windows, takes a meal in the dining car (surreptitiously dropping sugar cubes into her wallet as mementos), makes friends with those seated around her when the train is temporarily halted by a snowdrift, then steps off at last, and into her grandmother’s arms. Thompson places the ride in the 1920s or ’30s, depicting passengers and elegant interiors with photorealistic sharpness, then backing off to show the big train steaming its way through towns and over rolling prairie. Despite occasional anxious moments, the generally buoyant tone of this individual odyssey will reassure prospective young travelers, and trainiacs will pore over the period details. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-688-13433-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2003

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Memorable for the contrast between the melodramatic title and Czekaj’s funny cartoon scenes of popeyed children putting on a low-budget stage play, this account of our Constitutional Convention should leave even less attentive readers with some idea of what the resultant document is all about. The curtain rises on players in state-shaped costumes running around shouting “Hooray! Freedom!” In subsequent scenes they fall to squabbling (“I know what’s best for me”) under the weak Articles of Confederation, recognize the need for change and gather (all but Rhode Island, that is) in sweltering Philadelphia for long, secret negotiations—nearly failing to reach consensus until Connecticut proposes the Great Compromise over the nature of the two legislative houses. “Who will be the first to sign? George Washington, of course!” A lively way to kick off discussions of how the Constitution works and why it’s still a living document, especially with readers too young to tackle Jean Fritz’s Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution (1987). (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-58089-189-9

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2009

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