THE STINKY CHEESE MAN

AND OTHER FAIRLY STUPID TALES

From the front jacket copy ("...56 action-packed pages, 75% more than those old 32-page 'Brand-X' books") to the Little Red Hen's back-cover diatribe ("Who is this ISBN guy?"), the parodic humor here runs riot.

The insistent Hen is already squawking her tale at Jack—officious narrator, MC, and sometime participant—before a page labeled "Title Page" in 192 point type; the dedication is upside down, Jack's introduction carries a Surgeon General's warning, and the table of contents turns up late—after a story in which it plays an unprecedented role, then gets a jolt that knocks one tale off the page and, apparently, right out of the book. The brief, colloquially told, thoroughly revised tales are in the same comic spirit: no one wants to eat the Stinky Cheese Man, unlike the Gingerbread Boy; a lovestruck prince puts a bowling ball under his princess's 100 mattresses; "and much, much more!" All of this is fairly amusing, but what's most unusual is the innovative play with typography (a repetitive story gets smaller and smaller like an eye test, and words and letters are distorted in various other ways) and Smith's wondrously bizarre and expressive art ("The illustrations are rendered in oil and vinegar," states the colophon).

Irrepressibly zany fun. (Fiction/Picture book. 5+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-670-84487-X

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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ABIYOYO RETURNS

The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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