UNDER THE WILD WESTERN SKY

This companion piece to Following the Coast (2004) takes the author-illustrator and his wife out into the Great American West, photographing and sketching cacti, cowboys, arroyos and wildlife. Arnosky’s enthusiasm for his work is clear in both illustration (a sketch, obviously taken from a photograph, of himself with pad and pencil in hand) and text (“The western landscape is so spectacular, your eyes can barely take it in”). Glowing acrylics of said landscape give a sense of the scope of the vistas; insets focus on the wonders within. Soft pencil sketches also share space with the paintings, adding detail (the elements of a Western saddle) or a sense of “you are there” immediacy. As with its predecessor, this work’s presentation is much more geared toward a scrapbook-like regional overview than an in-depth examination of any one subject, and as such, it partakes of a disarming informality. The author’s regard for his audience comes through clearly in a concluding note that informs readers of the media used and encourages them to “copy all the illustrations using [their] own favorite medium.” (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: May 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-688-17121-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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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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In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are...

DRAGONS AND MARSHMALLOWS

From the Zoey and Sassafras series , Vol. 1

Zoey discovers that she can see magical creatures that might need her help.

That’s a good thing because her mother has been caring for the various beasts since childhood, but now she’s leaving on a business trip so the work will fall to Zoey. Most people (like Zoey’s father) can’t see the magical creatures, so Zoey, who appears in illustrations to be black, will have to experiment with their care by problem-solving using the scientific method to determine appropriate treatment and feeding. When a tiny, sick dragon shows up on her doorstep, she runs an experiment and determines that marshmallows appear to be the proper food. Unfortunately, she hadn’t done enough research beforehand to understand that although dragons might like marshmallows, they might not be the best food for a sick, fire-breathing baby. Although the incorporation of important STEM behaviors is a plus, the exposition is mildly clunky, with little character development and stilted dialogue. Many pages are dense with large-print text, related in Zoey’s not especially childlike voice. However, the inclusion in each chapter of a couple of attractive black-and-white illustrations of round-faced people and Zoey’s mischievous cat helps break up the narrative.

In spite of the book’s flaws, dragons are very appealing, and tales for young audiences that model the scientific method are nice to see. (Fantasy. 6-9)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943147-08-3

Page Count: 96

Publisher: The Innovation Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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