NIÑO’S MASK

Winter (Beatrix, above, etc.) communicates her abiding interest in Mexican culture with this wonderfully atmospheric, all-dialogue tale of a child who leads a ritual chase in his village’s annual Fiesta of the Tigre (jaguar). His parents bid him wait until he’s older, but so great is little Niño’s determination to participate in the upcoming festival that he cuts, carves, and paints a wooden dog’s mask with minimal adult help. Evoking Mexican folk art, both with characteristic motifs and saturated colors, Winter follows her young artist as he discovers the animal “hidden” within his rough block. He dons the finished mask, chases the costumed “tigre” through fields and village streets, then trips it up at last, earning both general acclaim from fellow villagers, and a guarantee of good crops for the coming year. The hand-lettered text, placed in balloons, is sprinkled with Spanish (superfluously translated at the end), and Winter depicts more masks and costumes in a closing gallery. Children of any cultural background will enjoy this glimpse of Niño’s world, and understand the profound pleasure he takes in creating art. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-8037-2807-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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A PLUMP AND PERKY TURKEY

The leaves have changed, Thanksgiving nears—and the canny turkeys of Squawk Valley have decamped, leaving local residents to face the prospect of a birdless holiday. What to do? They decide to lure a bird back by appealing to its vanity, placing a want ad for a model to help sculptors creating turkey art, then “inviting” the bird to dinner. The ploy works, too, for out of the woods struts plump and perky Pete to take on the job. Shelly debuts with brightly hued cartoon scenes featuring pop-eyed country folk and deceptively silly-looking gobblers. Pete may be vain, but he hasn’t lost the wiliness of his wild ancestors; when the townsfolk come for him, he hides amidst a flock of sculpted gobblers—“There were turkeys made of spuds, / there were turkeys made of rope. / There were turkeys made of paper, / there were turkeys made of soap. / The room was full of turkeys / in a wall to wall collage. / For a clever bird like Pete / it was perfect camouflage.” He makes his escape, and is last seen lounging on a turkey-filled tropical beach as the disappointed Squawk Valleyites gather round the table for a main course of . . . shredded wheat. Good for a few giggles. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-890817-91-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2001

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THE UGLY PUMPKIN

A club-shaped pumpkin gets dissed by a customer, all the other pumpkins, even twisted apple trees, before the sight of a motley crop of hubbards, acorns and banana squash brings on a personal epiphany: “O my gosh / I’m a squash.” Endowed with a face and stick limbs, the gnarled narrator sits down at a Thanksgiving table with its new soulmates, then is last seen strolling down the lane hand in hand with a lumpy new friend. Written in doggerel—“A skeleton came for pumpkins / one bright and crispy day. / I asked if I could get a ride . . . / He laughed and said: No Way”—and illustrated in brightly colored paint-and-paper collage, this weak riff on the “Ugly Duckling” may not earn high marks for botanical accuracy (all pumpkins are squash), but it does feature plenty of visual flash. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-399-24267-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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