ANDERSEN’S FAIRY TALES

Leffler’s small, delicately drawn and colored figures—part collage, and mostly of fairies or distant, elegantly posed people—add graceful visual notes to every spread of a collection that resembles many others, but does mix some less familiar tales in with the usual chestnuts. Readers may be disappointed that there’s no “Little Mermaid,” and no Emperor to be seen, clothed or otherwise, in the “Emperor’s New Clothes.” However, the grisly “Traveling Companion,” which features an abusive ghost and a sorcerer with a taste for human eyes, makes pleasantly chilling reading, and Andersen’s cutting style of humor definitely comes through in “The Sweethearts,” about a top who abandons his love for a leather ball when she turns old and ugly, and the closer, in which “Jack the Dullard” gets the Princess by displaying a rude sense of fun. Reichenstetter trims away some of Andersen’s descriptive and ornamental fancies to retell the 13 tales in formal but not stiff language. A good choice for a gift, or to showcase the author’s always surprising versatility. (Short stories. 10-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-7358-2141-5

Page Count: 96

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2007

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JOEY PIGZA SWALLOWED THE KEY

From the Joey Pigza series , Vol. 1

If Rotten Ralph were a boy instead of a cat, he might be Joey, the hyperactive hero of Gantos's new book, except that Joey is never bad on purpose. In the first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that he can't help himself; he's so wound up that he not only practically bounces off walls, he literally swallows his house key (which he wears on a string around his neck and which he pull back up, complete with souvenirs of the food he just ate). Gantos's straightforward view of what it's like to be Joey is so honest it hurts. Joey has been abandoned by his alcoholic father and, for a time, by his mother (who also drinks); his grandmother, just as hyperactive as he is, abuses Joey while he's in her care. One mishap after another leads Joey first from his regular classroom to special education classes and then to a special education school. With medication, counseling, and positive reinforcement, Joey calms down. Despite a lighthearted title and jacket painting, the story is simultaneously comic and horrific; Gantos takes readers right inside a human whirlwind where the ride is bumpy and often frightening, especially for Joey. But a river of compassion for the characters runs through the pages, not only for Joey but for his overextended mom and his usually patient, always worried (if only for their safety) teachers. Mature readers will find this harsh tale softened by unusual empathy and leavened by genuinely funny events. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-374-33664-4

Page Count: 154

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1998

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VATSANA'S LUCKY NEW YEAR

An earnest first novel in which a preteen encounters both prejudice and friendship at a Portland, Oregon, school. Born in the US, Vatsana thinks of herself as American; she studies Laotian only at her parents' insistence, regards the arrival of immigrant cousin Ketsy with mixed feelings, and is both surprised and deeply disturbed when a classmate begins muttering racial slurs in her hearing. Her non-Asian friends respond to the harassment with outrage and by sharing experiences of their own: the family of one sponsored Vietnamese refugees; another recalls an anti-Semitic incident. Describing Vatsana's life at home, the author introduces readers to traditional Laotian food, dress, social customs and celebrations, as well as the importance of family—clearly, this is Fiction with a Purpose, but the lectures and cultural information are neatly interwoven into the story. Gogol has taught English as a second language, and it shows: her exposition is methodical, syntax simplified (in her thoughts, Vatsana generally refers to herself in the third person); important ideas are stated clearly and reinforced by repetition. A sturdy addition to the rapidly growing number of books about the Asian-American experience. (Fiction. 10-13)

Pub Date: Dec. 23, 1992

ISBN: 0-8225-0734-X

Page Count: 155

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1992

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