THINGS THAT SOMETIMES HAPPEN

VERY SHORT STORIES FOR LITTLE LISTENERS

Avi at his most Margaret Wise Brown–esque, in nine offbeat, gnomic tales, drawn from the 30 in his first, same-named collection (1970). Sounding very much like the stories that children would make up themselves, these are daffy and nonsensical, starting and ending in odd places and going sort of nowhere in the middle. The result, however, is inevitably a sly grin. In the title story, a boy and a cat compare notes about their days—“ ‘I went out West, looking for tigers. If you don’t believe me, look how dirty my hands are . . . ’ The Cat said, ‘Oh, sorry you were gone. While you were gone chasing tigers, a dragon came and ate all my food.’ ” Subsequently, a pair of girls dig “Tunnels” to China, and other tales pose such unusual problems as an elephant trying to drink water from a glass, a hippo striving to fit into a new car, and a Story searching for an end. Priceman (Little Red Riding Hood, not reviewed, etc.) also looks to her influences, with bright, swirling, vigorously brushed scenes reminiscent of color-drenched Chagall. These cheerfully unconventional, irresistibly buoyant episodes will brighten any young child’s outlook—and cheer up some adults, too. (Short stories. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-83914-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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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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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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