CELESTE AND CRABAPPLE SAM

Crusty old Sam seems to be as sour as a crabapple, but the fact that he keeps a dog, Zack, a pet pig named Poppy, and— curled companionably under the porch roof of his seaside shack—a large snake, suggests at the outcome that he has another side. Sure enough, he's no match for Celeste, visiting next door with her Grandpa Hammond. The little girl begins by making friends with Zack; cheerfully disregards Crabapple's sign (``Beware of rattlesnake''), pointing out that rattlers don't live by the sea; and pursues the old man's friendship with such unquenchable zeal that, step by step, she wins him over—as nicely evidenced in Christelow's pen-and-watercolor art as well as in the adroitly phrased dialogue. In the end, Sam comes over to Grandpa Hammond's for a fish fry, bringing his own catch (``Can't let this girl eat store-bought fish, Hammond''), his pet boa constrictor (``Rattlesnake'') draped around his neck, and even a grin for Celeste's grandpa, who's been his antagonist (and friend) since childhood. An energetic and entertaining tale, deftly pointing out that a gruff manner may be overcome with persistence, and may mask real affection. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-525-67416-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1993

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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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NOT A BOX

Dedicated “to children everywhere sitting in cardboard boxes,” this elemental debut depicts a bunny with big, looping ears demonstrating to a rather thick, unseen questioner (“Are you still standing around in that box?”) that what might look like an ordinary carton is actually a race car, a mountain, a burning building, a spaceship or anything else the imagination might dream up. Portis pairs each question and increasingly emphatic response with a playscape of Crockett Johnson–style simplicity, digitally drawn with single red and black lines against generally pale color fields. Appropriately bound in brown paper, this makes its profound point more directly than such like-themed tales as Marisabina Russo’s Big Brown Box (2000) or Dana Kessimakis Smith’s Brave Spaceboy (2005). (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-112322-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2006

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