THE TINDERBOX

Mitchell and Ibatoulline, after Andersen’s The Nightingale, adapt another of the Danish master’s tales. A soldier encounters an ugly witch who offers to enrich him for a favor—fetching a lost tinderbox from a lamp-lit hall inside a hollow tree. The soldier, following her instructions, tames three massive, huge-eyed dogs guarding coin-filled rooms. Arguing with the witch over the retrieved tinderbox, the soldier severs her head. In town, his fortunes wax and wane with his riches. Discovering that striking the tinderbox convenes the magical dogs to do his bidding, he crafts nighttime visits with a beautiful, cosseted princess, enraging her royal parents. The summoned dogs foil the soldier’s hanging, wreaking murderous mayhem that presages his marriage to the princess. There are no source notes, but Mitchell’s crisp retelling seems faithful to Haugaard’s translation, occasionally substituting less colloquial terms (eyes like dinner plates instead of millstones, for example). Ibatoulline’s muted watercolors, roiling with inked crosshatching, capture both period details and the curiously satisfying menace of the canine trio. Handsome and engrossing. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-7636-2078-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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BUBBA, THE COWBOY PRINCE

A FRACTURED TEXAS TALE

A Cinderella parody features the off-the-wall, whang-dang Texas hyperbole of Ketteman (The Year of No More Corn, 1993, etc.) and the insouciance of Warhola, who proves himself only too capable of creating a fairy godcow; that she's so appealingly whimsical makes it easy to accept the classic tale's inversions. The protagonist is Bubba, appropriately downtrodden and overworked by his wicked stepdaddy and loathsome brothers Dwayne and Milton, who spend their days bossing him around. The other half of the happy couple is Miz Lurleen, who owns ``the biggest spread west of the Brazos.'' She craves male companionship to help her work the place, ``and it wouldn't hurt if he was cute as a cow's ear, either.'' There are no surprises in this version except in the hilarious way the premise plays itself out and in Warhola's delightful visual surprises. When Lurleen tracks the bootless Bubba down, ``Dwayne and Milton and their wicked daddy threw chicken fits.'' Bubba and babe, hair as big as a Texas sun, ride off to a life of happy ranching, and readers will be proud to have been along for the courtship. (Picture book/folklore. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-590-25506-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997

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