HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN FAIRY TALES

An Andersen medalist whose distinguished work includes picture-book editions of individual Andersen tales (Thumbeline, 1985) selects eight stories for a collection intended to ``echo that grand tradition where the literature itself takes center stage, and the master illustrator presents only a picture or two to light up the reader's imagination.'' By and large, this elegantly tall (13´'') volume achieves that aim. The ample size provides a generous white space to accommodate Zwerger's beautifully composed art; exquisitely poised figures perfectly capture Andersen's gentle humor and whimsically satirical tone, while the artist's choices of subjects allow telling glimpses into each story's heart. The selection of tales is also creative: four unusual entries—brief vignettes concerning ``The Naughty Boy'' (Cupid), ``The Rose Tree Regiment'' (``leaf lice,'' or aphids, recount their curious life cycle), and ``The Jumpers'' (also insects, who vie for a princess's hand), plus ``The Sandman,'' a childlike dream for each day of the week, concluded by Sunday's quietly philosophical view of death—make an enriching counterpoint to four familiar tales including ``The Little Match Girl.'' Bell's new translations are grand—the language is beautifully honed, vigorous but unobtrusive, with Andersen's wry humor intact. Unfortunately, the pictureless spreads are awkwardly designed, with very long lines of type and an excess of boring white space. Otherwise, a handsome, intelligently planned volume with lovely illustrations. (Fiction. 6+)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 1992

ISBN: 0-88708-182-7

Page Count: 68

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister:...

CORALINE

A magnificently creepy fantasy pits a bright, bored little girl against a soul-eating horror that inhabits the reality right next door.

Coraline’s parents are loving, but really too busy to play with her, so she amuses herself by exploring her family’s new flat. A drawing-room door that opens onto a brick wall becomes a natural magnet for the curious little girl, and she is only half-surprised when, one day, the door opens onto a hallway and Coraline finds herself in a skewed mirror of her own flat, complete with skewed, button-eyed versions of her own parents. This is Gaiman’s (American Gods, 2001, etc.) first novel for children, and the author of the Sandman graphic novels here shows a sure sense of a child’s fears—and the child’s ability to overcome those fears. “I will be brave,” thinks Coraline. “No, I am brave.” When Coraline realizes that her other mother has not only stolen her real parents but has also stolen the souls of other children before her, she resolves to free her parents and to find the lost souls by matching her wits against the not-mother. The narrative hews closely to a child’s-eye perspective: Coraline never really tries to understand what has happened or to fathom the nature of the other mother; she simply focuses on getting her parents back and thwarting the other mother for good. Her ability to accept and cope with the surreality of the other flat springs from the child’s ability to accept, without question, the eccentricity and arbitrariness of her own—and every child’s own—reality. As Coraline’s quest picks up its pace, the parallel world she finds herself trapped in grows ever more monstrous, generating some deliciously eerie descriptive writing.

Not for the faint-hearted—who are mostly adults anyway—but for stouthearted kids who love a brush with the sinister: Coraline is spot on. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97778-8

Page Count: 176

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2002

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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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