It could be argued that simplifying and softening these tales does neither the stories nor their audience any good, but for...

MICHAEL HAGUE'S READ-TO-ME BOOK OF FAIRY TALES

Fourteen familiar tales are retold in their simplest and most bloodless forms for reading aloud to very young children—an approach somewhat subverted by Hague’s powerful and somewhat surreal pictures.

It opens with “Beauty and the Beast,” and the Beast is genuinely terrifying. Cinderella’s sisters are forgiven so long as they “promise to be good.” Rumpelstiltskin does not tear himself in two but disappears in a huff. Snow White’s lips are “red as a rose,” and the evil queen’s fate is elided. The stories are kept quite short, and usually, as in “The Ugly Duckling” and “Jack and the Beanstalk,” the moral or lesson is writ large. Perhaps the least familiar tale is that of “The Seven Ravens,” in which a girl saves her seven brothers, who had been turned birds—an act that involves her cutting off her little finger. Hague’s illustrations are rich in saturated color and sinuous line, and they owe a debt to both the painter Gustav Klimt and the illustrator Arthur Rackham. Some of the motifs seem familiar from other images in Hague’s long career of illustrating fairy tales.

It could be argued that simplifying and softening these tales does neither the stories nor their audience any good, but for those who want short and sweet versions, they are here. (Fairy tales. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-688-14010-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures.

PIPPA'S NIGHT PARADE

Pippa conquers a fear of the creatures that emerge from her storybooks at night.

Pippa’s “wonderfully wild imagination” can sometimes run “a little TOO wild.” During the day, she wears her “armor” and is a force to be reckoned with. But in bed at night, Pippa worries about “villains and monsters and beasts.” Sharp-toothed and -taloned shadows, dragons, and pirates emerge from her storybooks like genies from a bottle, just to scare her. Pippa flees to her parents’ room only to be brought back time and again. Finally, Pippa decides that she “needs a plan” to “get rid of them once and for all.” She decides to slip a written invitation into every book, and that night, they all come out. She tries subduing them with a lasso, an eye patch, and a sombrero, but she is defeated. Next, she tries “sashes and sequins and bows,” throwing the fashion pieces on the monsters, who…“begin to pose and primp and preen.” After that success, their fashion show becomes a nightly ritual. Clever Pippa’s transformation from scared victim of her own imagination to leader of the monster pack feels fairly sudden, but it’s satisfying nonetheless. The cartoony illustrations effectively use dynamic strokes, shadow, and light to capture action on the page and the feeling of Pippa's fears taking over her real space. Pippa and her parents are brown-skinned with curls of various textures.

A delicious triumph over fear of night creatures. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9300-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in.

AT THE OLD HAUNTED HOUSE

A Halloween book that rides on the rhythms of “Over in the Meadow.”

Although Halloween rhyming counting books abound, this stands out, with a text that begs to be read aloud and cartoony digital illustrations that add goofy appeal. A girl and two boys set off on Halloween night to go trick-or-treating. As the children leave the cozy, warm glow of their street, readers see a haunted house on a hill, with gravestones dotting the front yard. Climbing the twisty path to the dark estate takes time, so the story turns to the antics inside the house. “At the old haunted house in a room with no sun / lived a warty green witch and her wee witch one. ‘SPELL!’ cried the witch. ‘POOF!’ cried the one. / And they both practiced spells in the room with no sun.” The actions of the scary creatures within may seem odd, but the rhyme must go on: Cats scratch, goblins dust, monsters stir, and mummies mix. Eventually the three kids reach the front door and are invited in for stew, cake and brew. At first shocked by the gruesome fare, the children recover quickly and get caught up in partying with the slightly spooky but friendly menagerie.

A good choice to share with wriggly listeners, who will soon be joining in. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4769-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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