PLEASE, MALESE!

A TRICKSTER TALE FROM HAITI

The stories of Haiti are filled with the deeds of the clever, sly Ti Malice and his acquaintance Bouki, whose wits are not as nimble. In her author’s note, MacDonald (Quentin Fenton Herter III, 2002, etc.) acknowledges using a tale of a “legendary shrewd peasant” referred to in a book on Haitian culture, The Magic Island (1929), by W.B. Seabrook, a New York Times reporter and a great traveler. Her character Malese (a variation on Ti Malice) fools various villagers into providing rum and shoes for him in an ingenious way, just as the peasant Theot Brun succeeded in doing in the original story, credited to Ernest Chauvet, publisher of Le Nouvelliste, a venerable Haitian newspaper. She has taken this story, whether legendary or true, and constructed her own trickster tale in which Malese not only winds up with a jug that is filled with more rum than water and a full pair of new shoes made to his specifications by two different cobblers, but also a donkey ride from Bouki. When his neighbors try to lock up Malese for a month to punish him for his illegitimate dealings, he uses his gift of gab to shame them into freeing him after only one day—and fixing his roof in the bargain. Lisker’s (The Story of Shabbat, 2000, etc.) exciting paintings, with their intense tropical colors and bold forms, are reminiscent of Haitian paintings, but lack the detail and specificity of the most interesting of the country’s naïf works. Readers can start here to get a taste of this particular trickster tradition and then go on to find other tales about Ti Malice. (author’s note) (Folktale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-36000-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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