ANANSI AND THE MAGIC STICK

Anansi the Trickster meets the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in this story loosely based on a Liberian folktale. While the other animals are busy tending their gardens and cleaning their homes, Anansi is sleeping. But when they tease him for being lazy, he says he is hard at work thinking and will have to find a new place to sleep, that is to think, for all the noise they are making. What he finds is Hyena’s house, which is always neat and tidy, no matter how Hyena sleeps away the day. Spying on him, Anansi sees Hyena recite some magic words to a stick, which then does his chores for him. The sly spider decides that this stick could help keep his neighbors from laughing at him for his poor housekeeping. All goes well for a time until he decides to have the stick tend his garden. When he falls asleep, the overzealous stick is watering the garden. Without Anansi to stop it, the stick’s watering goes from a trickle, to a flood, to a river, in which all the animals are swept away. Unable to remember the magic words, Anansi loses the stick to Hyena and must go back to thinking up new tricks. Children will delight in Anansi’s escapades as he annoys his neighbors and learns how to control the stick. Kimmel and Stevens make a good team, with the text fonts echoing the action of the story and the illustrations bringing Anansi and all his antics to life. This is their fourth Anansi collaboration (Anansi and the Talking Melon, 1996, etc.); has the tricky spider learned his lesson this time? Let’s hope not—his stories are too amusing. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-8234-1443-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2001

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TO MARKET, TO MARKET

A marketing trip from Miranda (Glad Monster, Sad Monster, p. 1309) that jiggity jigs off in time-honored nursery-rhyme fashion, but almost immediately derails into well-charted chaos. The foodstuffs—the fat pig, the red hen, the plump goose, the pea pods, peppers, garlic, and spice—are wholly reasonable in light of the author's mention of shopping at traditional Spanish mercados, which stock live animals and vegetables. Stevens transfers the action to a standard American supermarket and a standard American kitchen, bringing hilarity to scenes that combine acrylics, oil pastels, and colored pencil with photo and fabric collage elements. The result is increasing frazzlement for the shopper, an older woman wearing spectacles, hat, and purple pumps (one of which is consumed by her groceries). It's back to market one last time for ingredients for the hot vegetable soup she prepares for the whole bunch. True, her kitchen's trashed and she probably won't find a welcome mat at her supermarket hereafter, but all's well that ends well—at least while the soup's on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200035-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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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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