It’s a political education—Schoolyard Politics 101—in a picture book, one well worth having on the bookshelf.

LOUIS I, KING OF THE SHEEP

“And so it was one windy day that Louis the sheep thereby became Louis I, king of the sheep.” And, Kurt Vonnegut would add, so it goes.

Louis is out grazing when a crown blows his way. He tries it on. Voilà, Louis I. Soon, Louis I needs a scepter and a throne. He is ambitious: his court will become home to the most distinguished artists; ambassadors from the anteater, raccoon, and penguin kingdoms will all pay their respects. This leads to megalomania: he banishes the sheep that don’t resemble him to a distant pasture. But—the wind blows once more, taking the crown with it. Power comes, power goes; at least Louis gets to keep his head. (Maybe; the crown lands at the feet of a wolf. He tries it on.) Tallec’s book is sophisticated, but it also approaches the subject, visually and textually, from a kid’s-eye view. The colors (cadmium red, indigo, pinks shading to purples) beguile, and the imagery runs from fairly goofy-looking sheep to the royal luxury of an ermine stole to spooky trees that play with light and dark. Tallec leaves it up to readers to decide how much of Louis’ power trip is imaginary, giving them plenty of details to pore over while they muse.

It’s a political education—Schoolyard Politics 101—in a picture book, one well worth having on the bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59270-185-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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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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