THE UGLY DUCKLING

A gentler, milder version of Andersen’s classic tale of the misunderstood cygnet, inexplicably despised for his comparatively large size and definite lack of yellow but not for any real ugliness. Vainio reveals through delicate watercolors the whitish-gray fluff of a charming, tender baby desperately alone in a soft, beautiful world. Though the illustrations are lovely, they lack power. In every situation where the innocent swan is abused and finds no respite from hatred, the art handles this horror too gently. His reactions to rejection and verbal abuse are revealed in the illustrations, with a slight incline of his head showing his dejection. He is also unnaturally slow in growing, remaining a fuzzy baby over the course of months and then suddenly growing to adulthood in a page turn—a problem inherent in most illustrated versions of the tale. The unnamed translator has edited out the most violent verbal and physical abuse found in the original, making a place for it in collections for younger picture-book readers yet losing the story’s raw spark. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-7358-2226-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: NorthSouth

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2009

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ON MEADOWVIEW STREET

While her father mows the lawn at her new house, Caroline wonders how it could actually reflect the street’s name. Soon she finds a small blossom growing in the grass, then another, and eventually persuades Dad to sell the mower while the yard grows freely with wildflowers. Adding a maple tree and a man-made pond attracts an assortment of wildlife from birds, to insects, to a mud turtle and a meadow mouse. Neighbors are encouraged to follow suit, creating meadow environments rather than pristine lawns. Full-color acrylic paintings in double-paged spreads of multiple shades of green, dotted with hues of summer flowers, tell this nature-lover’s story which suggests the possibility of chemical-free garden environments. Though the message will be missed by young children, most will enjoy a final rendering of all the meadow creatures next to their proper names that now live on Meadowview Street. Gentle persuasion for the naturalist in everyone. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-06-056481-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2007

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THE LAST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN

Loewen’s story is a simple snapshot of kindergarten graduation day, and it stays true to form, with Yoshikawa’s artwork resembling photos that might be placed in an album—and the illustrations cheer, a mixed media of saturated color, remarkable depth and joyful expression. The author comfortably captures the hesitations of making the jump from kindergarten to first grade without making a fuss about it, and she makes the prospect something worth the effort. Trepidation aside, this is a reminder of how much fun kindergarten was: your own cubbyhole, the Halloween parade, losing a tooth, “the last time we’ll ever sit criss-cross applesauce together.” But there is also the fledgling’s pleasure at shucking off the past—swabbing the desks, tossing out the stubbiest crayons, taking the pictures off the wall—and surging into the future. Then there is graduation itself: donning the mortarboards, trooping into the auditorium—“Mr. Meyer starts playing a serious song on the piano. It makes me want to cry. It makes me want to march”—which will likely have a few adult readers feeling the same. (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-7614-5807-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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