THE PRINCESS MOUSE

Shepard (Master Man, 2001, etc.) retells an old Finnish tale about a very unusual way of choosing a very unusual bride. Two brothers are old enough to marry and their father reminds them that in family custom, they each must cut down a tree and follow where it points. Now, the older brother knows how to fell a tree so it falls where he wants, and he sets it toward his sweetheart’s farm. But the younger brother, Mikko, has no sweetheart and his tree points to the forest. Deep in the woods he finds a cottage and inside a mouse, who stands on her hind legs and tells him she’d be glad to be his sweetheart, and then sings him a little song. The next day, the father sends his sons to bring back cloth woven by their sweethearts—in Shepard’s version there is no demand for exceptional quality. Mikko’s mouse lets him nap, while an army of her fellow mice weave fine linen that fits into a nutshell. Mikko’s father, dazzled by the cloth, sets the next day for the weddings. When Mikko’s bride drives up in her tiny nutshell drawn by rats, Mikko’s brother, seeing only rodents, kicks them all into the stream. But when Mikko looks up, a beautiful princess in a mouse-colored gown of pearly velvet appears, her enchantment broken. The language is bright and cheery throughout, with the kind of repetition children, and storytellers, love and Shepard offers a reader’s theatre script on his Web site. Gore’s (The Secret of the Great Houdini, p. 876, etc.) paintings have the velvety texture of their pastel and acrylic medium in deep blues and greens; Finnish-inspired borders decorate textiles and some of the page edges. Prettily told, with sweet lessons about love and trust, no matter how odd the circumstances. (music notation, source notes) (Picture book/fairy tale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-689-82912-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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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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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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