THE SEA KING

Combining several elements of Russian folklore, the authors create an engaging tale using old motifs in new ways. A king spares an eagle he was going to shoot; the eagle speaks and promises to be useful, offering the king two boxes that he’s not to open just yet. He does, of course, and when the enclosed livestock run amok, the sea king, Morskoi Tsar, gathers them back, making the king promise to give him “that which you do not know is in your house.” The king returns home to find he’s promised his baby son, born while he was away. When the prince is claimed, he has a few adventures with the iron-toothed Baba Yaga and the sea king’s daughter Vasilisa the Wise, who with her sisters is sometimes a bird. The sea king sets the prince to three tasks, which he accomplishes with the help of Vasilisa, a relationship sure to end in marriage. The bright, deep colors of Russian folk art, particularly the nesting dolls called matryoshka, inform the pictures, making pleasing patterns. Because the faces are built on these geometric forms, expressions are limited to a grimacing smile or a turned-down comma for a frown. Lots of folkloric elements neatly combined and pictures bright enough for group reading create a nice addition to Yolen’s huge canon both singly and with collaborators. (Picture book/folktale. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2002

ISBN: 1-56656-459-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crocodile/Interlink

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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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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