OLD GRANNY AND THE BEAN THIEF

DeFelice reshapes a folktale with a Southwestern flavor. After an unseen thief nicks her beans three nights running, Granny marches off to tell the Sheriff. On the way, she encounters a water snake, a pecan, a cow patty, a prickly pear, and an alligator—all of whom address her politely and suggest that she take them home with her. Listeners will quickly pick up her repeat, “In a pig’s eye!,” and laugh when all do accompany her home (the Sheriff having gone fishing) to arrange themselves in strategic positions for the thief’s next visit. Smith uses a muddy palette, but captures the story’s humor in Granny’s theatrically exaggerated gestures and the smiling faces of her low-slung new allies. As in all the variations on “Bremen Town Musicians,” the elaborately drawn-out set-up leads to a quick, rousing climax in which the malefactor (here, a raccoon) gets a lesson he won’t soon forget. A fresh take on a reliable crowd-pleaser. (Picture book/folk tale. 7-9)

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2003

ISBN: 0-374-35614-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2003

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I WANNA IGUANA

In epistolary dialogue with his mom, a lad yearning for an iguana tries various approaches, from logic and sweet talk to emotional blackmail. His mother puts up a valiant defense—“Dear Mom: Did you know that iguanas are really quiet and they’re cute too. I think they are much cuter than hamsters. Love, your adorable son, Alex.” “Dear Alex: Tarantulas are quiet too”—before ultimately capitulating. Catrow’s scribbly, lurid, purple-and-green illustrations bring the diverse visions of parent and child to hilarious life, as a lizard of decidedly indeterminate ancestry grows in stages to the size of a horse, all the while exhibiting a doglike affection toward its balloon-headed prospective keeper—who is last seen posed by a new terrarium, pumping a fist in victory. A familiar domestic interchange, played out with broad comedy—and mutual respect, too. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-399-23717-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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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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