I, CROCODILE

More stylish invention from Marcellino (Natalie Babbitt’s Ouch!, 1998, etc.), inspired by a 19th-century satire. While munching contentedly on a flamingo, a Nile crocodile is suddenly set upon by “bozos with funny hats and a big net,” who at the behest of Napoleon cart him off to a Parisian fountain for public display. Soon he’s the “Toast of the Tuileries,” but fashion is fickle, and when the crocodile hears that he’s slated to become a pie he makes his escape. Where? Into the sewers, of course. Crocodile tells his tale in a disingenuous tone not unlike that of A. Wolf, narrator of Jon Scieszka’s True Story of the Three Little Pigs (1989); the grand illustrations depict a rotund reptile with googly eyes, grimacing and posturing theatrically before crowds of bonneted and cockaded Parisians. He’s such an engaging sort that readers will surely forgive him for pulling down an occasional unwary passerby—a crocodile must eat, after all. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-205168-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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THE BARN OWLS

From Johnston (An Old Shell, 1999, etc.), poetic phrases that follow a ghostly barn owl through days and nights, suns and moons. Barn owls have been nesting and roosting, hunting and hatching in the barn and its surroundings for as long as the barn has housed spiders, as long as the wheat fields have housed mice, “a hundred years at least.” The repetition of alliterative words and the hushed hues of the watercolors evoke the soundless, timeless realm of the night owl through a series of spectral scenes. Short, staccato strings of verbs describe the age-old actions and cycles of barn owls, who forever “grow up/and sleep/and wake/and blink/and hunt for mice.” Honey-colored, diffused light glows in contrast to the star-filled night scenes of barn owls blinking awake. A glimpse into the hidden campestral world of the elusive barn owl. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-88106-981-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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THE COOKIE-STORE CAT

There is an ineffable sweetness in Rylant’s work, which skirts the edge of sentimentality but rarely tumbles, saved by her simple artistry. This companion piece to The Bookshop Dog (1996) relates how the cookie-store cat was found, a tiny, skinny kitten, very early one day as the bakers came in to work. The cat gets morning kisses, when the bakers tell him that he is “sweeter than any cookie” and “prettier than marzipan.” Then he makes his rounds, out the screen door painted with “cherry drops and gingerbread men” to visit the fish-shop owner, the yarn lady, and the bookshop, where Martha Jane makes a cameo appearance. Back at the cookie store, the cat listens to Father Eugene, who eats his three Scotch chewies and tells about the new baby in the parish, and sits with the children and their bags of cookies. At Christmas he wears a bell and a red ribbon, and all the children get free Santa cookies. The cheerful illustrations are done in paint as thick as frosting; the flattened shapes and figures are a bit cookie-shaped themselves. A few recipes are included in this yummy, comforting book. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-54329-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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