THE NAKED LADY

This quietly reminiscent autobiographical story of the author-illustrator’s early inspiration to become an artist is dedicated to his first art teacher. When an older man, an artist, moves into the farm next door to young Tom’s family, Tom’s mother sends him over with a pie. Captivated by a beautiful sculpture of a naked lady, new neighbor Pieter instructs Tom it should be termed “nude.” Pieter doesn’t plan to farm, so Tom’s father will farm his land. The first day, Tom and his father go over to help; they “plant” whimsical sculptures all over Pieter’s fields: larger-than-life tomatoes, carrots, pigs, and birds adorn the artist’s farm when they are finished. Tom spends more and more time with Pieter, and eventually Pieter reveals that Evangelina, the nude statue, is his wife and model of 42 years, now deceased. One day, standing among the outsize vegetable sculptures in Pieter’s field, Tom realizes that he wants to become an artist himself. Pieter helps him with his first project: metal versions of wild irises, to adorn Evangeline’s statue, reminiscent of those Tom saw Pieter place at her feet when he first moved in. These memories are aptly illustrated in soft colors that evoke the bucolic setting: warm yellow sun, golden hay, pale blue sky, gray marble and barn siding, and faded green grass and leaves suit the nostalgic tone of the text perfectly. This haunting story, beautifully written and illustrated, will be of interest primarily to those interested in exploring art and the sources of inspiration for those who create it. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7613-1596-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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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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