MISOSO

A treasure. If there were any doubts about Aardema's (Anasi Finds a Fool, 1992, etc.) preeminence as a teller of African tales, this collection puts them to rest. Ten outstanding picture books could easily have been made from these twelve tales. Though not all are folktales in the strict sense of the term, their humor, imagination, and vivid imagery create a satisfying unity that is underscored by the brilliantly quirky illustrations and tasteful design. Aardema's mastery of onomatopoeia and rhythmic accumulation make you feel as if she's right there feeding the story into your ear. Choosing a favorite is hard: How about ``Half-a-Ball-of- Kenki,'' the world's only story starring a partial serving of cornmeal mush? or ``Kindai and the Ape,'' an Emo-Yo-Quaim version of the Androcles and the Lion legend? or maybe ``The Sloogey Dog and the Stolen Aroma,'' a Fang tale that may have originated in Egypt and has shown up in Jewish folklore? Misoso comes complete with maps, glossaries, and source information, but don't tell kids it's educational, and they'll never know the difference. Read this book once for the stories, twice for the illustrations, and a hundred times just for fun. (Folklore/Stories. 5-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-83430-3

Page Count: 88

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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DOG HEAVEN

Rylant's debut as a picture book illustrator (not to be confused with her board book debut as a collagist in The Everyday Books, 1993) offers sweet comfort to all who have lost loved ones, pets or otherwise. ``When dogs go to Heaven, they don't need wings because God knows that dogs love running best. He gives them fields. Fields and fields and fields.'' There are geese to bark at, plenty of children, biscuits, and, for those that need them, homes. In page- filling acrylics, small, simply brushed figures float against huge areas of bright colors: pictures infused with simple, doggy joy. At the end, an old man leans on a cane as he walks up a slope toward a small white dog: ``Dogs in Dog Heaven may stay as long as they like. . . .They will be there when old friends show up. They will be there at the door.'' Pure, tender, lyrical without being overearnest, and deeply felt. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-590-41701-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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