Inventive, musical rhyming pulls this effort, while the story and illustrations watch from the sidelines.

THE BOY WHO CRIED ALIEN

A prairie fire of wordplay engulfs Singer’s otherwise silly tale of visiting aliens.

Young Larry is a known liar, so no one believes him when he says an alien spaceship has landed in a nearby lake. “How corny, quaint, and uninspired. / I can’t be fooled by stuff that tired,” says someone who looks like he might be the mayor. And so, let the wordplay begin. Singer’s poetic architecture is highly variable—from long lines (which can be a bit of a slog) to short lines where words fly like popcorn (“ ‘Nonsense— / They’re jokesters, / hoaxsters. / Those fakes cannot / harm me…’ / ‘Holy pastrami— / call out the army!’ ”) to unsyncopated stutter steps. Even the aliens get in on the rhyming, their cockamamie verbiage—“Lel’w peek ruo eyes npeo / dna esu ruo tiws”—turning out in the end to be anagrammed English. The story, which involves Larry getting to know the aliens and learning that their planet admires the art of quality fibbing, plays second fiddle to the narrative pyrotechnics, and the words, in turn, tend to outshine Biggs’ artwork. While the characters have their measure of personality, mostly via gaping mouths, flapping tongues and beady eyes, the colors are fairly anemic, making the story even less substantial.

Inventive, musical rhyming pulls this effort, while the story and illustrations watch from the sidelines. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7868-3825-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way.

NOAH CHASES THE WIND

A young boy sees things a little differently than others.

Noah can see patterns in the dust when it sparkles in the sunlight. And if he puts his nose to the ground, he can smell the “green tang of the ants in the grass.” His most favorite thing of all, however, is to read. Noah has endless curiosity about how and why things work. Books open the door to those answers. But there is one question the books do not explain. When the wind comes whistling by, where does it go? Noah decides to find out. In a chase that has a slight element of danger—wind, after all, is unpredictable—Noah runs down streets, across bridges, near a highway, until the wind lifts him off his feet. Cowman’s gusty wisps show each stream of air turning a different jewel tone, swirling all around. The ribbons gently bring Noah home, setting him down under the same thinking tree where he began. Did it really happen? Worthington’s sensitive exploration leaves readers with their own set of questions and perhaps gratitude for all types of perspective. An author’s note mentions children on the autism spectrum but widens to include all who feel a little different.

An invitation to wonder, imagine and look at everything (humans included) in a new way. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60554-356-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Redleaf Lane

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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