WEE WINNIE WITCH’S SKINNY

AN ORIGINAL AFRICAN AMERICAN SCARE TALE

Readers who don’t rest easy after being spooked should be warned away from this posthumous chiller. Billed as an “Original African American Scare Tale,” it folds tried-and-true folkloric elements into a fast-paced story featuring a man afflicted by a witch who can detach her head and skin, and a too-curious lad she snatches out the window one night for a wild ride through the air. James Lee finds out what causes his Uncle Big Anthony to become so sick and frightened when he witnesses Wee Winnie Witch strip off her skin and ride Big Anthony like a horse; unfortunately, when she sees James Lee watching, over she gallops to grab him, too. But while they soar over the town (and James Lee finds himself as exhilarated as he is scared), Uncle Big Anthony’s canny mother-in-law Mama Granny is coating the inside of Wee Winnie’s skin with hot pepper oil. In full-page wood engravings, Moser captures the tale’s moonlit horror with gloriously icky views of the witch, both skinless, and as a cat with long-nailed human hands—but he also provides welcome comic relief at the end, with a scene of James Lee, many years later, relating the tale with obvious relish to a wide-eyed young listener. Your listeners will be wide-eyed, too. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-590-28880-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2004

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RIVER STORY

Trickling, bubbling, swirling, rushing, a river flows down from its mountain beginnings, past peaceful country and bustling city on its way to the sea. Hooper (The Drop in My Drink, 1998, etc.) artfully evokes the water’s changing character as it transforms from “milky-cold / rattling-bold” to a wide, slow “sliding past mudflats / looping through marshes” to the end of its journey. Willey, best known for illustrating Geraldine McCaughrean’s spectacular folk-tale collections, contributes finely detailed scenes crafted in shimmering, intricate blues and greens, capturing mountain’s chill, the bucolic serenity of passing pastures, and a sense of mystery in the water’s shadowy depths. Though Hooper refers to “the cans and cartons / and bits of old wood” being swept along, there’s no direct conservation agenda here (for that, see Debby Atwell’s River, 1999), just appreciation for the river’s beauty and being. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0792-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda.

BOOKMARKS ARE PEOPLE TOO!

From the Here's Hank series , Vol. 1

Hank Zipzer, poster boy for dyslexic middle graders everywhere, stars in a new prequel series highlighting second-grade trials and triumphs.

Hank’s hopes of playing Aqua Fly, a comic-book character, in the upcoming class play founder when, despite plenty of coaching and preparation, he freezes up during tryouts. He is not particularly comforted when his sympathetic teacher adds a nonspeaking role as a bookmark to the play just for him. Following the pattern laid down in his previous appearances as an older child, he gets plenty of help and support from understanding friends (including Ashley Wong, a new apartment-house neighbor). He even manages to turn lemons into lemonade with a quick bit of improv when Nick “the Tick” McKelty, the sneering classmate who took his preferred role, blanks on his lines during the performance. As the aforementioned bully not only chokes in the clutch and gets a demeaning nickname, but is fat, boastful and eats like a pig, the authors’ sensitivity is rather one-sided. Still, Hank has a winning way of bouncing back from adversity, and like the frequent black-and-white line-and-wash drawings, the typeface is designed with easy legibility in mind.

An uncomplicated opener, with some funny bits and a clear but not heavy agenda. (Fiction. 7-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-448-48239-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2014

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