GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT

Like Larky Mavis (2001) but sans the metaphysics, this folklorish original tale gives a poor, scorned orphan a chance to show her inner stuff, and to make a fresh start. When an ogre—“Oh, he was a foul creature! His breath smelled of graves, and he had rats in his hair instead of lice”—appears at the town gates demanding a bride, the townsfolk dress the nameless beggar, sometimes dubbed “Scraps-and-Smells” or “Skin-and-Bones,” in a fine gown and a paper crown, and push her out. She turns out to be quicker of wit than anyone supposes, however, and by the time the ogre finally swallows her down, she’s acquired a sharp sword and a purse of gold—using the one to kill the monster and triumphantly carrying the other away as her reward, head held high. Cole writes in a beguiling mix of rhythmic prose and snatches of verse, paired to equally beguiling watercolor scenes of rumpled-looking figures in a medieval setting. Viewers who linger over the pictures will be rewarded with plenty of comical side details, but also come to appreciate the artist’s genius for conveying character through subtleties of posture and expression. Fine fare for reading alone or aloud. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-374-32737-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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DAVID GOES TO SCHOOL

The poster boy for relentless mischief-makers everywhere, first encountered in No, David! (1998), gives his weary mother a rest by going to school. Naturally, he’s tardy, and that’s but the first in a long string of offenses—“Sit down, David! Keep your hands to yourself! PAY ATTENTION!”—that culminates in an afterschool stint. Children will, of course, recognize every line of the text and every one of David’s moves, and although he doesn’t exhibit the larger- than-life quality that made him a tall-tale anti-hero in his first appearance, his round-headed, gap-toothed enthusiasm is still endearing. For all his disruptive behavior, he shows not a trace of malice, and it’ll be easy for readers to want to encourage his further exploits. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-48087-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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KEVIN AND HIS DAD

There is something profoundly elemental going on in Smalls’s book: the capturing of a moment of unmediated joy. It’s not melodramatic, but just a Saturday in which an African-American father and son immerse themselves in each other’s company when the woman of the house is away. Putting first things first, they tidy up the house, with an unheralded sense of purpose motivating their actions: “Then we clean, clean, clean the windows,/wipe, wipe, wash them right./My dad shines in the windows’ light.” When their work is done, they head for the park for some batting practice, then to the movies where the boy gets to choose between films. After a snack, they work their way homeward, racing each other, doing a dance step or two, then “Dad takes my hand and slows down./I understand, and we slow down./It’s a long, long walk./We have a quiet talk and smile.” Smalls treats the material without pretense, leaving it guileless and thus accessible to readers. Hays’s artwork is wistful and idyllic, just as this day is for one small boy. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-316-79899-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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