Clever Jack of English folklore has stolen the hen that lays golden eggs, the harp that sings, and bags of money. He has slain the giant who followed him down the beanstalk and lived happily ever after—not. In this fractured tale there is more to the story. Jack has sailed to America with his mother and the aforementioned purloined objects. All is well as they settle on a nice little farm in the mountains of North Carolina and “Life was good and peaceful, and oh so fragrant.” When the giant’s older brother arrives on the mountaintop, the story leaps into action. Birdseye’s (The Eye of the Stone, not reviewed, etc.) folksy style of storytelling uses an American vernacular full of tall-tale exaggerations and dramatic page turns. Jack has a plan to distract the giant from eating him by overfeeding him. And feed him he does—piles of fried chicken, heaps of boiled okra, one thousand biscuits, six hundred pounds of mashed potatoes and huge heaps of coleslaw. Chased with ninety-nine gallons of apple cider. The giant is so close to puking he can’t even move, let alone grab clever Jack. Kids will revel in the gross pictures and the equally disgusting belching and the giant’s secret weapon, stinky feet. Hillenbrand’s (Pre-School to the Rescue, p. 338, etc.) mixed media, illustrations—tempera, colored pencils, crayon, and oil paint on vellum—create an a soft almost marbleized palate of spring greens and changing skies. Great fun. (Picture book 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1450-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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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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This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the...


From the Stink series

An all-zombie-all-the-time zombiefest, featuring a bunch of grade-school kids, including protagonist Stink and his happy comrades.

This story covers the few days preceding the much-anticipated Midnight Zombie Walk, when Stink and company will take to the streets in the time-honored stiff-armed, stiff-legged fashion. McDonald signals her intent on page one: “Stink and Webster were playing Attack of the Knitting Needle Zombies when Fred Zombie’s eye fell off and rolled across the floor.” The farce is as broad as the Atlantic, with enough spookiness just below the surface to provide the all-important shivers. Accompanied by Reynolds’ drawings—dozens of scene-setting gems with good, creepy living dead—McDonald shapes chapters around zombie motifs: making zombie costumes, eating zombie fare at school, reading zombie books each other to reach the one-million-minutes-of-reading challenge. When the zombie walk happens, it delivers solid zombie awfulness. McDonald’s feel-good tone is deeply encouraging for readers to get up and do this for themselves because it looks like so much darned fun, while the sub-message—that reading grows “strong hearts and minds,” as well as teeth and bones—is enough of a vital interest to the story line to be taken at face value.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5692-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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