Family history and legendary exploits in a memorable setting, but the remarks about the dangerous behaviors of women and...

DANCING WITH DAISY

In 1962, Hurricane Daisy hit Nova Scotia.

When Liam asks about an old photo, Grampy, with his bald pate and white beard, begins to spin a tall tale. “There’s a story goes along with that photograph, a story about a nasty, wild girl in search of a dance partner.” Grampy narrates his encounter with the storm, personified as a forceful woman. Ghostly hands and a spectral body whirl through the multimedia illustrations, with crayon and paint creating eddies of movement in the scenes. Liam probes about the experience’s effects: Grampy’s twisty hands, lack of hair, loss of teeth. His grandpa explains that Daisy tried to take hold of his hands while he clung to a tree, making his hands “as gnarled and crooked as that branch.” Then “her army of seagulls plucked me like a daisy” (causing Liam to recall a “mean” hair-pulling female classmate). Even after Grampy returns home, Daisy still pursues him, “wailing like a jealous banshee” before Nana successfully fends her off. There’s an appealingly close bond between Grampy and Liam (and both child and grandparents present white in the illustrations), but while the folkloric text sweeps readers along with its playful allusions, the persistent evocation of Daisy as both woman and threat palls. As Grampy draws to a close, Liam says, “I hope I never meet a wild girl like that!”

Family history and legendary exploits in a memorable setting, but the remarks about the dangerous behaviors of women and girls pile up. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: June 25, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-927917-20-6

Page Count: 44

Publisher: Running the Goat

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag.

DEAR BEAST

Epistolary dispatches from the eternal canine/feline feud.

Simon the cat is angry. He had done a good job taking care of his boy, Andy, but now that Andy’s parents are divorced, a dog named Baxter has moved into Andy’s dad’s house. Simon believes that there isn’t enough room in Andy’s life for two furry friends, so he uses the power of the pen to get Baxter to move out. Inventively for the early-chapter-book format, the story is told in letters written back and forth; Simon’s are impeccably spelled on personalized stationery while Baxter’s spelling slowly improves through the letters he scrawls on scraps of paper. A few other animals make appearances—a puffy-lipped goldfish who for some reason punctuates her letter with “Blub…blub…” seems to be the only female character (cued through stereotypical use of eyelashes and red lipstick), and a mustachioed snail ferries the mail to and fro. White-appearing Andy is seen playing with both animals as a visual background to the text, as is his friend Noah (a dark-skinned child who perhaps should not be nicknamed “N Man”). Cat lovers will appreciate Simon’s prickliness while dog aficionados will likely enjoy Baxter’s obtuse enthusiasm, and all readers will learn about the time and patience it takes to overcome conflict and jealousy with someone you dislike.

An effective early chapter book conveyed in a slightly overdone gag. (Fiction. 6-8)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4492-2

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so...

TOUCH THE EARTH

From the Julian Lennon White Feather Flier Adventure series , Vol. 1

A pro bono Twinkie of a book invites readers to fly off in a magic plane to bring clean water to our planet’s oceans, deserts, and brown children.

Following a confusingly phrased suggestion beneath a soft-focus world map to “touch the Earth. Now touch where you live,” a shake of the volume transforms it into a plane with eyes and feathered wings that flies with the press of a flat, gray “button” painted onto the page. Pressing like buttons along the journey releases a gush of fresh water from the ground—and later, illogically, provides a filtration device that changes water “from yucky to clean”—for thirsty groups of smiling, brown-skinned people. At other stops, a tap on the button will “help irrigate the desert,” and touching floating bottles and other debris in the ocean supposedly makes it all disappear so the fish can return. The 20 children Coh places on a globe toward the end are varied of skin tone, but three of the four young saviors she plants in the flier’s cockpit as audience stand-ins are white. The closing poem isn’t so openly parochial, though it seldom rises above vague feel-good sentiments: “Love the Earth, the moon and sun. / All the children can be one.”

“It’s time to head back home,” the narrator concludes. “You’ve touched the Earth in so many ways.” Who knew it would be so easy to clean the place up and give everyone a drink? (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5107-2083-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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