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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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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